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Bali and the Art of Motorcycle Transportation

Bus Travel Down Slightly as Many Indonesians Opt to Drive a Motorbike Home for the Idul Fitri Holidays.

(9/27/2008) The growing popularity of motorcycles as a means of transportation in Bali has made itself felt in a drop of inter-island bus passengers and an increase in private vehicle traffic at the ferry crossing at the western port of Gilimanuk during the 2008 Lebaran holidays.

BeritaBali.com quotes, Hari Edi, the Chief of the Land Transportation Office for Denpasar, saying the number of inter-island busses departing from Denpasar's Ubung Terminal is lagging some 6% behind the Lebaran holiday in 2007. On the seventh day before Idul Firtri, 98 busses carrying 3,892 passengers departed the Ubung Terminal, a number that compares to 4,020 passengers traveling on 105 busses on the same day in 2007. Edi attributes the drop in bus passengers to the growing popularity of travel by motorcycle for the obligatory trip "back home" for the Idul Fitri Holidays.

Transportation officials are predicting the heaviest surge of bus passengers departing Bali to take place on September 28, 2008, three days before the official celebration of Idul Fitri on October 1-2, 2008.

Supporting Edi's view of greater reliance on private motorcycles for holiday travel, thousands of motorcycles and private vehicles have begun to line up at the Gilimanuk port, awaiting ferry transportation across the straits to Java. On Thursday, September 25, 2008, reports from that port indicated waiting times of from 1.5-2 hours, a period certain to grow longer as the holiday nears.

The head of the Ferry Service for Gilimanuk-Ketapang, Carda Damanik, reports increases in traffic loads are expected to peak on September 28, 2008.

Damanik said that in order to keep waiting time to a minimum, his office would try to increase the speed of turnarounds at the port from the standard 45 minutes to 40 minutes. "We will do our best," said Damanik.

Despite the best efforts of port authorities, lines will be long over the peak holiday period. Damik said: "Our prediction is that the number of homecomers will increase. We will, however, give the highest priority to passenger safety and take steps to make sure no ship carries more than its maximum permitted load."

The Port Chief at Gilimanuk, Dewa Nyoman Kari, said weather conditions in the Bali Straits are conducive for ferry crossings, but urged ferry captain to maintain a high level of vigilance watching for any sudden change in the weather. Kari cautioned: "The weather in the Bali Straits is difficult to predict. We continue to coordinate (forecasts) with the Meteorological Service as we monitor every ship movement.

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