Tag Archives: commuterline

From Commuter Line to Driving: What do I Miss in my Commute?

Recently, I moved to another office, which is closer to my home. It also happen that my new office is not conveniently located near Jakarta’s Commuter Line train station. Rough calculation shows that my total commute time by train would be longer than driving my car. So, I decided to switch from Commuter Line to driving my car.

It has been almost a week since I drive. And these are few things that I miss from my commute with Commuter Line:

  1. The free time to read or focusing on my podcast. Naturally, it would be impossible to read my kindle while driving. While I still can play podcast through my car audio, I still need to split my attention to the road and listening to podcast. When taking Commuter Line I don’t need to focus to the road ahead. I just need to make sure that I didn’t miss my stop.
  2. The exercise. I used to ride my bicycle from home to Sudimara train station. The ride out and back at night would give me a good 30 minutes exercise daily. During my marathon training, I even run to Sudimara, some 5.4km from home.
  3. Cheaper commute. The bike ride didn’t cost any fuel, and maintenance is minimal. Bike parking is 6000 per day. Train ticket is ridiculously cheap, at 2000 one way for a total of 4000 per day (thanks for the subsidy). My motorcycle fuel is around 80.000 per month. Motorcycle parking is 100.000 per month at Palmerah Station, and average 8000 per day at office. My total commute cost was 540.000 per month. That won’t even cover half of my monthly car fuel.

I’m still exploring some more option to make my commute less boring and more enjoyable. At the moment, I’m exploring the possibility of doing bike to work. Once I cleared few logistic issue, I might be able to give it a try, hopefully next week or so. Until then, I guess I’m going to be stuck in the traffic jam for some time.

Train Ride to Stasiun Jakarta Kota

Born and live in Jakarta for my whole life, I have never set foot once in Stasiun Jakarta Kota. I did drive passing through the station a couple of time. Each time I drive, I always remember the station as filthy, lack of maintenance, and crowded by homeless and pickpocket.

Having commute with the Jakarta commuter line train in the past 2 years change my point of view a bit. A lot of improvement happened in the last 2 years. The Jakarta commuter line train is much cleaner, even comparable to the commuter train in Thailand and Malaysia, and maybe Singapore MRT. The stations are also heading to the right direction. Aside from the obvious renovation of Palmerah Station, I also observe that, along the Tanah Abang-Serpong line, the station is much cleaner and relatively free from people who smoke.

Having always think to expose my 3 years old son to public transport, I think a train ride to Stasiun Jakarta Kota would be ideal. In addition to introducing public transport to my son, it will also be my first time to Stasiun Jakarta Kota. Our itinerary is simple. Me and my son would start from Rawa Buntu Train Station. My wife will drive our car to do some business, then will pick us up nearby Stasiun Jakarta Kota once she is done. Anyone who also would like to try our route can easily start anywhere within the Jakarta Commuterline Station.

Stasiun Rawabuntu
Stasiun Rawa Buntu at BSD. This is where our journey start

The train ride start with our son a bit afraid with the sound of the train passing by. However, it soon turns into joy. The rail from Rawa Buntu to Tanah Abang is running in parallel with Jakarta – Serpong toll road. Sticking his nose to the train’s window, Ethan call out every vehicles that he recognize: Taxi, Bus, Truk Tangki, Truk Sampah (Garbage Truck), Bus, and some more.

Looking at the Toll Road
Our son and two other kids in the train is poking their nose to the train window. Outside, the Jakarta – Serpong toll road running in parallel with the rail

The fun (and challenges) starts at our arrival in Stasiun Tanah Abang. I was always thinking that it will be an easy transfer to another Jakarta Commuterline route to Stasiun Jakarta Kota. “Take another train to Stasiun Manggarai, then transfer to the train to Jakarta Kota”, the station’s security told me when I asked on the line that goes to Jakarta Kota. “Okay”, I told myself. And I’m stuck with Ethan at the crowded platform. Thankfully, the train to Stasiun Manggarai arrived not long after that.

The most enjoyable part of the trip? Fortunately, it is the train ride from Stasiun Manggarai to Stasiun Jakarta Kota. The rail between these two station has been renovated in year 1988 – 1992 to be 100% elevated rail. It is beautiful to ride through the heart of Jakarta up high on the ground, free from traffic. We pass a couple of station: Cikini, Gondangdia, Gambir, Jayakarta and Mangga Besar, all with its own unique color. The stations, in a hindsight, is similar like some other mass transit station in Thailand and Malaysia. If only they put more lights, new paint, and renovate the rest of the station like these one, Jakarta Commuterline will be definitely nicer to ride, and will be the transport of choice for Jakarta’s resident.

Monumen Nasional
Monumen Nasional, taken from Jakarta Commuter Line near Gambir Station

After a long queue before our train can alight at Stasiun Jakarta Kota, we finally disembark. I was impressed, and still impressed on how Stasiun Jakarta Kota looks like. It is over 100 years old, yet the architecture is still feel elegant. Restaurant lined up nicely nearby the platform, selling snacks, noodle or coffee. And speaking about coffee, a Starbucks shop is on the corner, after you clear the ticket gate.

Main Hall of Stasiun Jakarta Kota
Main Hall of Stasiun Jakarta Kota. KFC is visible on the left, while Starbucks is at the far end of the hall

Total trip cost is Rp. 3000 (kids under 3 years is free), and trip time is close to 2 hours. This is probably not the fastest ride to Stasiun Jakarta Kota, but definitely a better way to spend the weekend outside the mall, to get to know Jakarta, and to introduce public transport to our son, Ethan.

My Typical Commuting Day

“Commuting in Jakarta is not about distance”, I said to a friend. “It is about traffic jam”
My home is not that far from office. Distance measured on Google Map is 23km. In a good day, driving to office took 2 hours in a good day! That means 10km per hour. In a bad day, the driving time can be over 3 hours.
To compare, the world record for half marathon (21.1k) are 58 minutes 23 seconds. Those Africans can run faster than I drive.
I refuse to spend over 4 hours on the road. Some argue that commuting with your own car is more comfortable. For me, even when there are driver to drive, being confined in a car for 4 hour is a torture.
So, this is my typical commuting day. It started with 5.5km cycling to Sudimara Train Station. The cycling took 15 minutes if I’m in a hurry, and the traffic is friendly, and maximum 20 minutes if I feel like cycling easy.
The waiting at Sudimara Train Station usually around 10 minutes. The good thing of not driving is I have more time to read the book on my kindle, or connect with friends in social media. No need to think on which way to take to avoid traffic jam. And there are real people to chat with, or interesting things happening that worth a picture.
The commuter train ride itself took 20 minutes from Sudimara to Palmerah train station. Most of the time it was so packed that it is so hard to move your hand. I stick with my kindle, or watching poor soul trapped in their car in the traffic jam outside.
From Palmerah Train station, I picked up my motorcycle in a nearby office building. I park my motorcycle overnight in the building to make it easier to commute within the downtown. Depends on the traffic, i can reach my destination in another 15-30 minutes
Total commuting time 65 – 80 minutes. Definitely much faster (and cheaper) than 2 hours driving from home. Plus some extra personal time to read book on Kindle.