The Transportation Ministry's Greater Jakarta Transportation Agency (BPTJ) is planning to provide a fleet of intercity buses to transport commuters from Bogor, West Java, to Jakarta as an alternative to Commuter Line trains.
BPTJ head Polana B. Pramesti said that the new intercity buses were aimed at reducing crowding in train stations.
"We have deployed free buses for Commuter Line passengers since May 15 to reduce passenger volume at train stations, however it can’t be a permanent solution," Polana said in a statement. "After the launch of the free bus services, we've said that if the demand consistently grows, we could launch a regular bus service [for the routes].”
Since the Jakarta administration started easing the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) to curb the COVID-19 outbreak, large numbers of residents in Jakarta and surrounding areas have begun flocking to the commuter train service again, creating long queues and packing train stations.
This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the train operator has limited the capacity of each train to only 35 to 45 percent to ensure passengers can maintain physical distancing.
The BPTJ has cooperated with the Transportation Ministry and the Jakarta administration to deploy free buses for commuters living in the satellite cities of Bogor, Depok and Bekasi in West Java and Tangerang in Banten to reduce long queues and crowding in train stations.
On Monday, 77 out of 170 free buses provided by the BPTJ transported 1,112 passengers from Bogor and Bekasi.
Polana said the BPTJ aimed to launch the new bus service, dubbed the Greater Jakarta Residential Connexion or JR Conn, in August.
"JR Conn will be a point-to-point bus service, so instead of deploying from bus terminals, the buses will deploy from bus stops near residential areas to avoid crowding at bus stops or terminals,” she said.
She explained that the BPTJ would still limit the buses to 50 percent of capacity to ensure passengers could maintain physical distancing.
"Passengers will be required to wear face masks, and their temperatures will be checked prior to entering the buses. We will also regularly clean the buses with disinfectant," she said.
Polana also urged commuters who could work from home to continue doing so as it would be hard for transportation operators to implement proper health protocols if the number of passengers using their services was still the same as prior to the pandemic.
"The World Health Organization has stated that public transportation is one of the potential factors for COVID-19 transmission. So, we are trying really hard to prevent public transportation in Greater Jakarta from becoming a transmission source,” she said. “However, that’s very hard to do without the public's help.”