Jakarta busway blues (or reds?)

Being a man of the people, and wanting to avoid a nerve-racking drive up to Chinatown, I decided to park my car at Semanggi and get on one of those nice red buses that use the traffic-jam free busway route.

First bus comes along. And guess what? It’s full.

Second bus comes along, and of course it’s full too, but I get on anyway: I can’t be bothered to wait any longer.

This is one thing I’ve never understood – why do the buses only leave from their base (Blok M) when they are full? Wouldn’t it be better for some buses to leave empty so that people could actually get on them?

But then again there might not actually be too many of the buses to go around. According to the Jakarta Post, over Rp87 billion rupiah has been “lost” due to huge markups when the buses were bought in the first place.

So yer may be traveling on a normal bus, but it probably cost the taxpayer more than a Ferrari. But considerably less fast. Not that the bus drivers care of course, and they hammer them as if they were Michael Schumacher tearing around his home Hockenheim circuit.

So the bus is full and I try to force my way inside. A bunch of young seemingly-healthy young men all sitting down. And a young mother struggling with her baby as she stands in front of them, one hand holding tightly onto the handgrip thing above to avoid being thrown around as Shummy up front does his stuff.

But why doesn’t one of these young men give her a seat? How is it possible to be so selfish? Anyway, I point out the young mother’s predicament to the bus conductor and he asks one of the young men to stand up. Rather reluctantly he does and the young mother sits down.

But it looks like her baby’s been guzzling on his milk bottle too long. A few big burbs and then woosh – out it all comes as he pukes over his Mum and another passenger.

They both stand up. The seats are covered in white frothy puke.

We’re at the Gadja Madah Plaza stop now. Shummy’s set a new lap record, and a few more people get on. Amazed to see some empty seats on a full bus they frantically head towards them and sit right down...


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