Private cars, online taxis, public transportation, what is the best way to get around in the Big Durian?
Getting around Jakarta can be tricky thanks to our legendary traffic but thankfully there is a variety of ways to travel in the city. No matter what your personal needs and preference, you can find the perfect ride to navigate the Big Durian.
Just commuting to work can be an adventure so many people employ full-time drivers if they can afford it. The easiest and most trustworthy way of finding a driver is through your office or through word-of-mouth of friends or from expat community associations. Many times, leaving expats will try hard to find their drivers another full-time job before they leave and can give a sterling recommendation.
Cars and motorcycles
Driving yourself around Jakarta is also an option if you have the right paperwork and courage. Officially you will need to obtain an Indonesian driver’s license by passing the national test or have an international license. Just a note: buying a car can get pretty costly because of the high taxes though.
One of the most convenient ways to get around town is taxis. You can grab them off the street or at stands found at malls, hotels, and other high-traffic places. The most popular and most trustworthy taxi companies are Blue Bird and Express. Both are pretty ubiquitous on the streets on Jakarta but download their apps to order a taxi when you need them. You can also book premium taxis (think Mercedes and Alphard) and larger vans through their website.
The transportation game in Jakarta was changed ever since Uber, Grab, and GoJek came to town. The upside of online taxi is you don’t have to deal with handing over cash and many times the charge is cheaper than taking the traditional taxi. They also have promos and lower rates for those who use their online payment facilities like GrabPay for Grab and GoPay for GoJek. If you and your colleagues are heading to the same direction, you can even choose their car-pooling option, where you and the other passengers can share a ride and split the bill. While it’s often considered as the cheaper option of transportation, the charge may be multiplied during rush hours or rainy days, so having more transportation options is always a good idea.
Online Motorcycle Taxi
For a cheaper option, online taxi companies Uber, Grab, and GoJek also offer online motorcycle taxis. Just like their online taxi facilities, they have set a pre-determined price for your desired ride, so you won’t need to bargain with the drivers just like you would with the traditional ojeks. Another plus point we love about online motorcycle taxi is that they come with free head covers and masks to keep the riders’ hair clean despite the use of helmet.
Ojeks, or motorcycle taxis, can traditionally be found during the day on most street corners. They can take one passenger just around the corner or even across town. The big pro is that the motorcycles can get into tight spots making them super convenient during rush-hour traffic, but you’ll have to put on your bargaining hat and haggle over a price with the driver. Mostly it depends on distance, although traffic is a consideration too. Most drivers have a helmet for their passengers but it can still be quite dangerous weaving in an out of traffic with no protection. On a less serious note, you get pretty sweaty and blasted by exhaust and other pollutants so an ojek ride can get pretty grimy.
TransJakarta is the public bus system that runs through 13 corridors 24 hours a day, hitting the major landmarks and popular sites in the city, including Kota Tua, Taman Mini, Blok M, and the Central Business District. To board the bus, you will need to have a bank-issued prepaid card like e-money or e-Toll Card, which needs to be tapped in and out at the gate. The only downside of TransJakarta is that the buses don’t really run on a set schedule. You might wait 30 minutes or more for a bus then have three come at once.
Metro-minis, kopajas, and angkots
These informal buses run on specific routes and you can tell which one is going where based on the numbers on the vehicles. Metro-minis are painted orange with a blue stripe while kopajas are green and white and angkots are smaller and light blue, but they all operate in very similar ways. Rides, regardless of distance, cost around IDR 5,000 and unlike TransJakarta’s designated stops, you can hail them anywhere along their route and jump off wherever as well. All you have to do to get the vehicle to stop is tap on doors or windows to signify you want to get off. One word of warning though, watch your belongings very carefully, pick-pockets are notorious for working on these vehicles.
These small orange and blue two-seaters are the best way to get around short distances (think about the same length that can be covered by bicycle) in neighbourhoods. You’ll have to set a price with the driver but are usually much less than taking a taxi.
KRL Commuter line
Another way to beat the traffic is by boarding the train or KRL commuter line. With over 1,000 units of trains, the electric train service passes stations across Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi. They also have special carriages designated for female passengers for extra convenience. However, just like some other public transportations in the city, the trains may not come on time and are extra packed especially during rush hours.
Soekarno-Hatta Airport Train
Those of you traveling out of town can now ride the newly-launched Soekarno-Hatta Airport Train, a modern-designed express train that brings you from the heart of the city to the airport in just 54 minutes. The train, which features reclining seats with LCD monitors, baggage racks and toilets, departs from Sudirman Baru (BNI City), Batu Ceper, and Soekarno-Hatta stations, with a one-way ticket priced at IDR 70,000. All ticket transactions for the train are cashless, so you’ll have to buy them either using debit or credit cards at the ticket machines or online through the Railink mobil app.
Biking can be done in Jakarta although it is also a bit dangerous as there are few bike lanes and even then, don’t expect to be in the clear. Motorcycles and drivers are known for blocking them off.
Unfortunately Jakarta is not the most pedestrian-friendly city but there are some spots where you can go for a stroll including Kemang, Menteng, SCBD, and Senopati. Even there though, the state of the sidewalks can make it challenging. Never attempt to walk during floods, even on the sidewalks! The unexpected holes and ditches can make it very treacherous.