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Hop on the Bus, Gusti!

Trans-Sarbagita Mass Transit Bus System to Start Late and Limply in June 2011?

(5/30/2011) Bali Post says that Bali's explosion in private vehicle ownership, growing traffic congestion and air pollution have sharpened the public's attention on the long-promised but long-delayed public transport system.

The Trans Sarbagita Mass Transit Bus System that was originally scheduled to start service in 2009, was delayed until 2010 and then promised for a February 2011 launch. February 2011 has come and gone, with officials now promising a bus service for the people of Bali in June 2011 connecting Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar and Tabanan.

The Transportation Association (Organda) is busily preparing the infrastructure for the Sarbagita system. 60 buses are ready and standing by to act as "feeders" to the main Sarbagita routes operated by 15 new busses provided by the central government in Jakarta. These feeder routes are planned to the be served by air-conditioned vehicles bringing passengers to the main bus stops. Some legislators have, however, expressed doubts that the aging feeder route can be efficiently outfitted with the promised air-conditioning systems due to the actual condition, age and engine capacity of the feeder fleet.

Also coming in for criticism are the bus stops built to support the Sarbagita system. Some legislators say the positioning of some of  the "bus stops" has been badly planned and may, as a result, potentially contribute to Bali's traffic congestion problem.

The operation of the Trans-Sarbagita will begin with a first-phase introduction in June 2011. Corridor 2A will travel both ways on a route between Batubulan, Sanur, Dewa Ruci and Sentral Parkir. Corridor 2B will travel both ways along Sentral Parkir, Dewa Ruci, Jimbaran and Nusa Dua. An initial 15 busses will operate these routes, with more busses and more routes to be added over time.

The bus stops that have been waiting and unused for almost an entire year will provide a somewhat sullied commencement to the new service as many have already become disfigured with graffiti and begun to decline physically before coming on line for initial service. A total of 12 bus stops have been built with an additional 10 portable bus stops also available for use.

Largely missing from the preparation equation is any degree of socialization and information regarding the mass transit bus system with the public largely still in the dark  on matters of fares, timetables and rules of conduct for passengers. Clearly, unless a public marketing campaign is undertaken to educated the public on the new system, occupancy, at least in the early phases, will likely be low.

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