Taxi-ing Serendipity strikes again. Having tried to go across town in Monday's torrential downpour. I was thinking of establishing a league table of taxi companies in Jakarta. Then I received a couple of missives on the topic so the issue has become almost crucial. Last Monday in the early morning during the near daily downpour*, the taxi was parked at a bus shelter - which, of course, meant that potential bus passengers would get soaked trying to board and those getting off would similarly have to wade through several inches of water which wasn't going to drain away any time soon. In the mornings, not wanting to risk public buses which are generally cramped, dirty and unreliable in terms of getting anywhere within a rushed schedule, I take whatever taxi will stop for me. Except for Family Indah whose drivers have by my reckoning only given me fifty percent satisfaction. Still, facing potential floods and a slower than usual journey, I figured that beggars can't be choosers and I got in dripping over the back seat.As we pulled away from the kerb the driver asked me Mau kemana, Mister? I told him and he told me that he didn't want to go there. I told him to eff off as I stepped out into the rain, not now having the benefit of the bus shelter.The thing is, of course, I'm a tight wad. There are two classes of taxis in town - Blue Bird and all the others which have significantly lower meter tariffs - tarif bawah is pasted on their windscreens. I don't generally have a problem now with taxi companies, apart from Prestasi which used to be the clapped out non-meter using President taxis of yore. They now look just like the generally well-respected Bluebirds which, in spite of the drastically reduced fuel prices insist on keeping to (their) higher tariff. However, they do have GPS.The British Foreign Office has got a bit paranoid too about the safety of their staff in Jakarta's taxis and have updated their Travel Advisory for Indonesia as follows:
British Embassy, Jakarta, staff are advised to use only taxis from the Bluebird and Silverbird group. These are widely available at hotels and shopping malls in central Jakarta and at Sukarno-International Airport. Care should be take to distinguish Bluebird and Silverbird vehicles from "look-alike competitors". For further details see the Bluebird website.
In the same download of emails I received the following from Daniel, a newbie in town.One thing I would like to say is that from my experience, Blue Bird taxis are no better, and possibly far worse, than your average Jakarta cab. I've only been here six weeks or so but, despite their friendliness, the drivers have rarely had any idea of how to get to pretty basic places.
Example 1 - At Ancol I ask for a ride to Fatahillah Sq, Kota. We end up at Gambir. Example 2 - At Kelapa Gading I ask for us to naughtily stop off at McDonalds 24hrs on the way to Cempaka Putih. The incompetent driver has no idea and heads to Cempaka Mas, grinning. Just two of many recent 'anecdotes'.When the fare starts higher and all the travel guides give a firm thumbs-up, the drivers ought to at least know the basics. But I'd say that from recent experience you'd be better off in pretty much any other cab, as long as it is metered and you can get a 'yes, mister' that vaguely means 'yes I know where you want to go'. With Bluebird it's too often a random drive around a few blocks and a higher fare at the end of it.Yep, that's been my experience too, so I have decided that an unscientific poll of Jakartass readers is in order. I did think of putting in one of those polls but figure that the following question will do
Which Jakarta taxi companies have NEVER given you a stressful ride?
Please leave a comment.My choices would be Gamya, which I rarely see, and Putra, with Express and Koperasi close seconds.
*Elyani has posted some more nice photos of happy waders here.