Transports of Delight 2Conversations with a taxi driver 1TD: Hey mister. You want driver?- J: No thanks. I don't have a car.TD: Why not?--J: What's the point of forking out loads of dosh for something that's going to be sat in traffic jams for hours? I can use taxis.TD: Ah, taxis good mister, ya? Mister want driver?
Put it into Indonesian and that is a familiar conversation.Conversations with a taxi driver 2(aka Journey From Hell)TD: Mau kemana, Mister?
Where do you want to go?
--J: Puri Indah.
TD: Pondok Indah?
--J: Nge. Puri Indah.
TD: Mister kasih tau?
Can you tell the the way?
Having already entered the toll road, I resigned myself to an unpleasant journey, not least because the AC wasn't working and it was like sitting in a sauna.TD: Buka jendela, MisterOpen the window.
We were held up on an overpass as some dignitary or other was given the right of way to get on the toll road and then drive on unimpeded, escorted by police on their superbikes.
We sat breathing in exhaust fumes as the temperature rose.
We reached Jakarta's Spaghetti Junction (Semanggi) and I glanced at the meter. WTF?? A quarter of my journey done and it was already registering what I usually pay for the complete journey.---J: Stop, you cheating little bastard. Let me out here.
All in my fluent Indonesian and a very loud aggressive voice, with 'here' being very close to the police HQ. I gave him a third of what was showing on his meter and told him to eff off.
Moral: Don't use Prestasi taxis, however new they are. Remember that they are a revamped version of the infamous President taxis of yore.From Thin Air
That's where I think the Jakarta Post got the statistic that 2% of Jakarta's vehicles carry 40% of the population. Yet it does make sense.
Think of a single-decker bus. It occupies the roadspace of, at the most, three cars, and that's in a traffic jam when everything is nose-to-tail. These three cars will be carrying twelve people at most between them, whereas the bus has probably crammed in sixty.
Of that 2%, very few will be buses. But supposing the number of buses were doubled - and private cars were surcharged per zone - then commuters would have the incentive to use the buses because there would be reduced costs and with fewer jams there would also be reduced travel time.
This would have the knock on effect of reducing the wear and tear on the roads and the need to build ever more flyovers and underpasses, thereby allowing City Hall to invest taxpayers money in essential services, such as rail transport*
But we do know that this isn't at all feasible with the current mindset.
It's the dreaded C-word. (Or K if you're thinking in Indonesian).
..................................*It's just been announced that there will be night trains for Jakarta's late night commuters and revellers. This could well mean that I can leave the centre of town at the ungodly hour of 10.30 and still get home without being extorted by taxi drivers.
Transports of Delight 1 is here