Website links car owners to commuters   Monday, October 10, 2005

Tantri Yuliandini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Some may prefer to take it to the streets, while others just grumble about rising transportation costs as they fill up the tanks of their gas-guzzling cars.

But for Tangerang residents Rudyanto and his fiancee Sylvia, the recent fuel price hike has prompted them to set up, a website aims at linking people who need rides to those with cars so they can share -- or nebeng -- a car to and from work on Sept. 28.

"Day after day we are stuck in heavy traffic on our way to and from work, while we see that cars in front, beside and behind us are often empty of passengers," Rudyanto said.

To date, has 1,360 registered people who needed rides and about 560 people who provide vehicles. It is not clear, however, how many were successful.

"Many people providing vehicles only want women passengers for reasons of safety," he explained.

The website gets a lot of criticism and suggestion and also provides a forum for members to share experiences and interact with one another.

A registered member, Hidayat Tjokrodjojo, through the forum suggested that the nebeng custom would be more successful if people working at the same office or those living in the same housing complex can be convinced to use car pools.

"The success of these car pools can be posted on to encourage others to do the same," Hidayat said, adding that spacious office parking areas could be utilized to "pool" people waiting for rides and those providing them.

Rudyanto stressed that a lot of money and fuel could be saved if those empty cars were utilized to transport passengers -- paying passengers -- going the same way as the driver.

"Our idea was that instead of driving two empty cars, people going to and from work just share one car and save 50 percent on fuel costs," Rudyanto, who works as a web developer, told The Jakarta Post.

The government raised fuel prices by an average of 126.6 percent per litter on Oct. 1 after oil prices surged to over US$70 per barrel on the international market.

The price of Premium gasoline, for example, increased from Rp 2,300 to Rp 4,500, while diesel rose Rp 2,100 to Rp 4,300 and kerosene from Rp 700 to Rp 2,000 per litter.

Almost immediately after the fuel price hike, the city administration increased transportation fares by up to 58 percent.

The Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) declared recently that the fuel price increase has driven up Jakartans' household spending on transportation and has gone beyond its recommendation of 12 percent of their total income.

YLKI said that transportation spending of Jakartans rose to 20 percent of household spending with the increase in fuel prices recently.

The idea of sharing modes of transport to and from work is certainly nothing new to Jakartans, most of whom daily commute from housing complexes outside Jakarta proper into the capital. Jakarta's day time population balloons to 12 million people, and falls back to about 7.5 million at night, giving a good indication of the numbers of people to commute.

One only has to stop by the area around the Jakarta Police Headquarters in South Jakarta at five o'clock in the evening, when offices close, to note lines of private cars offering rides to Tangerang, Bekasi, and Depok. More often than not, these so-called omprengan drivers are also office workers who just want some company and a little extra cash for their way back home.

The problem with omprengan, of course, is safety, both for passengers and the driver.

For this has a solution. "We provide columns for mobile phone numbers, telephones or e-mail on registration for both people offering a ride and those who need one," Rudyanto said, explaining that in this way people can first personally contact and screen those they want to share vehicles with.

Sumber Berita: The Jakarta Post

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