As the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta is a magnet for many people. It's not only a hub for those engaged in business but also a popular tourist destination for both domestic and foreign visitors. 

Overall, there were 935,182 international tourists who visited Jakarta from January to December 2022, showing a significant 683.48% increase compared to the 119,362 visits recorded during the same period in 2021 (Katadata).

Post-COVID-19, the government has also set higher targets for the number of tourists coming to Indonesia, with Jakarta as the main gateway.

Despite its ambitious goals, has Jakarta truly served as a tourist-friendly destination?

There could be many aspects contributing to Jakarta's status as a tourist-friendly destination, and one of them is its public transport system for tourists. Apart from providing mass and user-friendly public transportation that is also relied upon by the city's residents, offering special transport as a tourist attraction can enhance the experience. 

One example is providing city tour buses, an attraction available in many major cities worldwide, which can be particularly useful for first-time tourists looking to explore the city and visit its major landmarks. Some of these services are provided by the government, while others are operated by private companies, such as City Sightseeing.

Jakarta Explorer City Bus Tour

Now, what about Jakarta? 

Since February 2014, the Jakarta Explorer City Bus Tour has been in operation. Managed by PT. Transjakarta as a CSR program, it's free and offers several routes for tourists to explore. 

Despite years of operation, has the Jakarta Explorer Bus effectively catered to the comfort and convenience of tourists, especially those visiting Jakarta for the first time? We were curious, so we decided to find out. Join us on our journey!

Jakarta Explorer City Bus Tour

Phase 1 - Looking for Information & Planning

1. Searching on Google

We didn't know anything about this bus operation, like most first time tourists. So, as our first step, we obviously searched for it on Google to find out some necessary information such as:

- How does the city bus operate?

- What is the route? Which places can we visit? Where are the bus stops?

- What are the operating hours and timetable?

- How long does the journey take?

- How much is the price? How’s the payment system?

We typed in keywords in both English and Indonesian, such as 'Jakarta city bus tour,' and here is the result. 

Jakarta City Bus Tour

The first website that appeared was from in Indonesian. Therefore, we visited that website, assuming it to be the official one.

2. Obtaining Information from Transjakarta's Website

Yay! We've found the official website page, and here's the first appearance. So, were we successful in getting all the information we needed?

Jakarta Explorer City Bus Tour

From this page, we've gathered some information. For instance, there are seven different thematic routes, which include: History of Jakarta, Jakarta Modern, Art Culinary, Jakarta Skyscrapers, Jakarta Open Space, Jakarta Heritage, and Jakarta Shopping, and all of them are free. Each bus will be equipped with audio that will provide information about Jakarta's icons and landmarks that are passed by.

Additionally, there is information about its operating days and hours, as well as the route map in the form of images.

Jakarta Explorer City Bus Tour

Right, so from this website, we've successfully obtained some information, but some details are still missing, including:

- Where is the first stop for each route?

- How long does the journey take?

Additionally, what's missing from this page is the option to change the language to English for foreigners who don't understand Indonesian.

3. Look for More Information from Other Sources

Next, we attempted to gather more information from alternative sources to cross check the details we had and to discover any missing information. This is when we read the latest update on the news portal, which stated that, post-COVID-19, only two routes were operational: Route 2 (Jakarta Modern) and Route 4 (Jakarta Skyscraper). 

This information had not been updated on the Transjakarta official website. Additionally, through this news source, we learned about the first bus stop. However, we also discovered that the operating hours differed from those provided on the official website.

So, after collecting more information from various sources, the issue in this step is the disparity in information, which raised the question of which source is accurate - the official website or the more recent news we read?

4. Time to Plan Our Journey!

After gathering information, we then decided to try Route 4 (Jakarta Skyscraper) because it's the only route with an open double-decker bus. Based on the information we collected, we planned to go on Sunday, starting from the first bus stop: IRTI Monas. 

We also chose to trust the information from the news site, which stated that the operating hours are from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. As a comparison, the official website states that on Sundays, Route 4 operates from 12:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

Are you ready to join us?

Phase 2 - It’s the Tour de Jakarta Day! 

First Stop: IRTI Monas

Now, we're ready to go. Based on the information that the first bus would depart at 10:00, we arrived at the bus station at 9:45, about 15 minutes early. When we arrived, there was already a long queue of people waiting. We wondered if many others were also planning to take bus route 4. However, to be sure, we decided to ask the official staff since there was no clear information on the spot.

After obtaining information, we discovered that the queue we had seen was not for route 4 but for route 9, which had its final destination at Pantai Maju, Pantai Indah Kapuk, departing at 10:00. The information about route 9 was not available on the official website.

Jakarta Explorer City Tour Bus

As for bus route 4, it would also be in operation, but it would depart around 10:30 - 11:00 after Car Free Day. Since we were among the first passengers wanting to try bus route 4, we were directed to form a separate line from route 9. 

At 10:00, the bus for route 9 arrived, and passengers began boarding. The boarding process, including tapping cards, also took some time, causing the bus to start moving at around 10:15.

Meanwhile, for bus route 4, it arrived at 10:30. We were the first passengers to board and took our seats in the open section on the second floor. Similar to bus route 9, it also took some time to board the passengers, and the bus departed around 10:45.

During this step, we noticed several issues that passengers face, including:

Jakarta Explorer City Bus Tour

Outdated Information

The information on the official website is not up to date. What we found online didn't match the reality we encountered at the bus stop, particularly regarding operation hours and the route. This made us suspect that the official website is not regularly updated.

Unclear Queue

There are no clear signs to guide passengers on where to line up for different routes.

Lack of Information Screens

There are no screens displaying current bus information, such as capacity, current location, and estimated arrival time. Passengers are left waiting without this information and have to rely on asking officials for updates.

Slow Boarding Process

Boarding the bus takes time. For instance, when a bus is scheduled to depart at 10:00, it often turns out that at 10:00, passengers are still in the process of entering and tapping their cards before the bus can leave. Delays in boarding can affect the schedule for subsequent stops.

Heavy Reliance on Officials

Overall, due to the lack of clear information, passengers need to frequently approach officials directly to obtain necessary information. Meanwhile, for foreigners who cannot speak Indonesian, a language barrier can sometimes be an issue.

On the Bus Experience

Finally, we successfully boarded the bus and took a tour around Jakarta, with the main focus on Sudirman Street. We saw Jakarta's landmarks, such as the Selamat Datang (Welcome) Monument. We decided not to stop anywhere and to go through the whole route to experience the tour for about 1.5 hours.

So, how was our experience? One notable aspect was the absence of audio or live guides explaining the landmarks or places we passed by.
We thought that this was an example that distinguishes a tourist city bus from daily transportation, as tourists typically seek information about the city they are visiting. 

How to Improve the Tourist Experience?

Based on our experience, starting from the planning phase to actually experiencing the Jakarta Explorer City Bus Tour, several problems arose that could affect the tourist experience for those who want to explore Jakarta using the tourist bus.

Therefore, we believe there is room for improvement to enhance the tourist experience and convenience when exploring Jakarta. Here are some suggestions:

Jakarta Explorer City Bus Tour

Update Information on the Official Website

The official website is one of the most frequently visited sources for tourists seeking information. It is essential to provide a user-friendly, informative, and up-to-date website so that tourists do not become confused.

Provide Bus Information Screens at Bus Stops

This could include displaying the bus timetable, the bus's current position, route details, and capacity in an easily understandable visual format.

Put Up Clear Signs for Passengers to Know Where to Line Up

Clear signs are needed to maintain orderly queues and prevent passengers from lining up in the wrong line.

Offer Audio Guides on the Bus

The absence of audio guides made the overall experience similar to riding a regular bus. By providing audio guides, tourists will receive more information about Jakarta, enhancing their experience.

Overall Thoughts

To achieve the goal of making Jakarta an appealing tourist destination that attracts more visitors, it’s important to improve the current services and experiences from the perspective of tourists.
When they arrive in an unfamiliar place, their first instinct is often to seek information online. 

Therefore, it's crucial to provide comprehensive information in both Indonesian and English, as English is an international language. This will help tourists form a positive first impression of Jakarta.

Furthermore, it's equally important to enhance the quality of the bus ride experience itself. Through these improvements, we hope to make Jakarta a more enjoyable destination for a greater number of tourists.

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