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.
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.
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.
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.
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.