Passengers Air Anger at New Commuter Trains

The Jakarta Globe

As the trial run of a new commuter railway operating system entered its second day, many users on Friday aired irritation and annoyance with what they said was a lack of safety, efficiency and comfort.

On Thursday, state railway company Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) launched a trial run before the new operational system debuted today.

Under the new system, KAI is no longer running more expensive express trains. Now, all commuter trains plying the same route will be air-conditioned but will cost the same fare and stop at every station on the way.

Under the old system, KAI had operated three classes of commuter train services between Jakarta and its satellite cities of Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi. Tickets for the air-conditioned express trains ranged from Rp 4,500 to Rp 11,000 (53 cents to $1.30) depending on the route, while the economy-class train cost between Rp 1,500 to Rp 4,500.

Lodevica Retna, 43, a commuter from Bekasi, said it used to take her 20 minutes by train to get to Gondangdia Station in Central Jakarta. The trip now takes 40 minutes.

“For express commuter train passengers, our transportation cost might appear reduced, but our comfort has been reduced at the same time,” Lodevica said.

She complained that trips were much longer since trains had to stop at every station and that the trains were more packed than express trains.

“Other than that, passengers also have to face safety concerns because the possibility of there being pickpockets on board the train is greater,” she said, referring to the packed carriages.

Lodevica also said the new system negated one of the reasons the express trains were popular: shorter trips.

“We just want to get to Jakarta as fast as possible, but it appears there is no other choice for us now than taking this commuter line,” she said.

Novieta Tourisia, 23, a commuter from Depok who uses trains to travel to Juanda Station, which is also in Central Jakarta, said her commuting time had doubled from 25 minutes to 50 minutes.

“The implementation of the one-system commuter line was so messy during the trial run because many passengers were not well-informed about the new schedule, causing passenger accumulation in some stations,” she said.

Novita said that since trains were now packed, seat numbers were not respected and many passengers even went as far as bringing their own folding chairs.

She also pointed out that there were no ticket checks conducted during the two days.

“Will we no longer have comfortable and efficient public transportation?” she asked.

Nurcahyo, the moderator of KRL Mania, a train commuter community, said many passengers had not been well-informed about the new system, fares and schedules.

“KAI needs to add more trains and more schedules to reduce the accumulation of passengers in some stations,” he said.

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