Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bis or BUS

There are a large number bus (bis) companies servicing routes in Jakarta. Many of the larger buses seat 25-40 people (depending on type of bus). The buses have set prices (which should be posted on the bus). Bus companies include the government-owned PPD and Damri, which provides service to the airport. Private companies include Metro Mini. Some buses are air conditioned like Mayasari and Patas AC; they are more expensive. Other bus lines are run by cooperatives like Kopaja and Kopami.

All buses have set routes and set fares, but not set schedules. Students in uniform pay a lower rate of Rp 300 - no matter the distance. If you're not sure of the fare, ask other passengers what it is. Pay the “conductor”, who is usually hanging out the back door. He won't have change for big bills.

Buses are the most common transport of the masses. As we near the fourth year of the monetary crisis, they are almost universally in bad condition. There are less buses on the road as the price of spare parts has caused companies to vandalize other buses in their fleet and up to half of many of the fleets may not be roadworthy.

Bus passengers are often the target for robberies, street singers, and beggars - both on the buses and in the major bus terminals. Many bus drivers are notoriously dangerous as they race against each other to try and pick up passengers before the other buses plying the same route. Metro Mini has the worst reputation for poor drivers.

Buses do not necessarily stop at bus stops ... they stop wherever they can pick up a passenger be it in the middle of the road or on a busy intersection. Buses do not necessarily come to a complete stop for passengers to get off and on. So be careful as to which foot you step off the bus with!

The beginning and end points of each bus route are found on the front and back of each bus, along with a route number. If you don't know which bus to take, just ask the people at the bus stop and they'll tell you (helps if you speak Indonesian, of course).

Inter-city buses to other cities in Java and Sumatra (bis antar kota) can be found at the biggest bus stations - Pulau Gadung, Kampung Rambutan, Lebak Bulus, Blok M, and Kota.

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