Outsmarting traffic with Jakarta’s Go-Jek

cc by Shanghai Daddy

Whoever has been to Jakarta knows how it is to be stuck in traffic. Epic, hopeless congestions will make you want to tear your hair out, especially if you are trying to get home after a long day and you KNOW your home is – in theory – only a few kilometres away.

Unfortunately, Jakarta does not have a rail-based public transport system like tram, underground or similar. The only other means of getting around slightly faster is… by motorbike. Because bikes can weave though the traffic and thus get to the next traffic light just ahead of the pack.

cc by tb smith

DIY motorbike taxi

Jakartans have known this for a long time, and unsurprisingly, Jakarta’s streets are full of motorbikes; ┬áin fact I believe they are key contributors to the traffic problem, but let’s leave that aside for now.

Motorbikes are pretty affordable, and a small industry has sprung up around the idea of motorbike taxis. Normally, the way this works is that some motorbike-owning emang with not much to do offers his services to whoever happens to walk past. This type of informal, unlicensed transportation service is called “ojek”.

Motorbike taxis clearly have potential, but most of the wealthier Jakartans are reluctant to use this service. Of course, riding a motorbike means being exposed to heat and rain, to smog and dust. It is not very safe and the average ojek driver isn’t necessarily experienced or well trained.

Go-Jek

Smart move of Jakarta based starup Go-Jek to tackle that problem. Of course they can’t away take the heat and dust, but their mission is to make ojek smarter, safer and more convenient by providing a more formalized service. However, instead of putting new drivers and bikes on the street, they choose to work with already existing drivers that are selected by 3 criteria: their experience, their reliability and whether they have a valid drivers’ license. The call-an-ojek hotline now makes it possible to give drives additional rides, leading to less idle time. (App to follow soon, I hope!)

This is what their website looks like. Apart from transporting people, Go-Jek also offers courier services for goods.

So simple, so brilliant! Go-Jek has received quite a lot of attention, also from international media such as this time magazine video and won numerous Indoensian business innovation awards.

On my next visit, I will definitely use this service.

A typical trip from Kemang (South Jakarta) to Menteng (Central Jakarta) would cost me 40,000 IDR, which is about 3.8 Euros. By car, this trip could easily take 60-90 minutes. By bike, perhaps half that time.

I have to say it is rather expensive (a regular taxi ride would not be that much more), but if I get there way faster it may still be worth it. I hope Go-Jek has plans to provide training and more long-time security for drivers under its program as the company grows.

 

 

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