TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The removal of subsidies for long-distance economy trains is not expected to cause travellers to move away towards other means of public transportation, because economy trains has its own advantages.
"Trains are not affected by traffic jams. Besides, economy trains are comfortable and air conditioned," said the stationmaster of Purwosari Station, Slamet Riyanto, in Solo, on Thursday, September 25, 2014.
According to Slamet, the load factor of long-distance economy trains are very high—in fact, many economy trains consistently fill up 90 percent of its seats. "Some of the trains are completely full on the weekends, leaving many others disappointed and without a ticket," said Slamet.
Due to high demands, ticket sales are rarely done at the ticketing booth at the station. Usually, passengers book their ticket up to 90 days ahead of their planned departure date through the Internet or travel agents.
The Bengawan train is one of the examples of a long-distance economy train. The Jakarta-bound train departs from Purwosari Station at 15.35 local time, before arriving at 00.53 local time. The air conditioned trained can carry 742 passengers and tickets are priced at Rp50,000.
"If the government decides to lift the subsidies, the train journey on the Bengawan could cost Rp90,000 per ticket," said Slamet.
The public relations manager for state-run railway company PT KAI Indonesia's Yogyakarta branch, Bambang Prayitno, admits that his team has not received further information on the plans to lift subsidies for long-distance economy trains. "We are still waiting for instructions from our head office," he said.
According to Bambang, the occupancy rate for economy trains that serves his area are quite satisfactory, albeit he does not now the exact load factor percentage. "One thing for sure, it's quite high," he said.