As the country entered the last week of Ramadan, when people traditionally start traveling back to their hometowns, confusion reigned at train stations where new policies were put in place.
Unlike in past years, train stations in the capital have prohibited passengers from waiting at the platforms until their trains are scheduled to arrive.
Mateta Rijalulhaq, a Kereta Api Indonesia spokesman for the Greater Jakarta area, said the new system had been created to avoid confusion and to help prevent passengers from boarding the wrong train.
“They will be called up an hour before their train comes, so they will know exactly which train they should take and they can wait more comfortably without the crowds,” he said.
“We want nothing more than to make the system more orderly. This is for the passengers’ own convenience.”
Mateta said many passengers had in the past camped at the stations for hours before their trains arrived. “Some even came a day before their scheduled train. They camp up here in the station and leave garbage strewn everywhere,” he said.
He conceded that while there had been protests from passengers on the first day its implementation, the new system would be strictly applied during the week leading up to Idul Fitri on Tuesday, and for 11 days after. “This system is expected to teach people to be more patient and to follow the regulations,” Mateta said.
Aida Wahyuningtyas, a 25-year-old university student, said she was happy with the state railway operator’s new policy. “I appreciate that KAI really cares about its passengers by providing us with chairs and newspapers outside the waiting area,” she said. “It’s so much better than all the passengers waiting inside.”
However, she said a better public announcement system was needed to alert people of when to board their trains.
Mardi, 56, and Parman, 64, two long-time Jakarta residents planning to head to Yogyakarta from Senen Station in Central Jakarta, were still without tickets about four hours before their train was scheduled to leave.
“We are usually able to get a ticket on the spot, but I do not know why it is taking longer this time,” Mardi said. “Other than that, I didn’t see any ticket scalpers around.”
Earlier on Tuesday, a spokesman for Vice President Boediono, Yopie Hidayat, said KAI had been ordered to better inform the public of its policy changes.
Boediono, Yopie said, had also asked Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi to work more closely with ship, train and flight operators over Idul Fitri.
Freddy said he had already warned three airlines about selling tickets above the government imposed price ceiling, but he declined to name the companies.
I Ketut Fery Utameyasa, a spokesman for Angkasa Pura II, which manages Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, said passenger numbers were up about 5 percent on Tuesday but expected traffic to peak on Friday.