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Jakarta Taxis and Transport

Airport Taxis Blue Bird Silver Bird Public Buses

Taxi Overview

A word of caution is in order when speaking of taxis in general. In reality there is little regulation or enforcement in the Indonesian taxi business. The following recommendations are well worth the time and effort to remember.

1. Before entering a taxi make sure the driver agrees to take you to your destination. Some drivers don’t like to go into congested areas because of the traffic jams.

2. Be sure there is a driver ID on the dashboard along with the Company logo and code number. If there is no such information clearly visible do not get into the taxi.

3. Reputable companies insist that their drivers be well mannered, well groomed, wear the company uniform/shirt and shoes. This is one time when it is better to judge a book by its cover. The taxi driver's appearance is reflective of the companies attitude toward service.

4. Once you are in a cab if the driver tries to bargain, or claims that his meter is broken, best to immediately get out of the taxi.

Airport Taxis
Once you have cleared customs you are now faced with ground transport choices. Individuals will approach and beseech you “Taxi Mister?”. Unless you are in the mood for an adventure, an argument and/or the ultimate in disappointment and frustration, these “private operators” and their overtures should be ignored. These are known as taxi gelap (dark taxis) and are "illegal transportation" operations. Licensed taxis have commercial license plates (which is yellow with black letters) whereas these private taxis have a standard black license plate with white letters - hence the name taxi gelap. In reality there are only two safe, comfortable options despite the colorful array of taxis lined up hoping for your business - Blue Bird Taxi and it's more upscale counterpart - Silver Bird / Golden Bird Taxi.

A taxi from the airport into the central business district in a Blue Bird will cost approximately Rp. 100,000.-. Silver Bird will cost approximately Rp. 150,000.-. This is more than what will appear on the meter because of the airport pickup fee of Rp. 8,000. as well as there are two toll ways; the first for Rp.2,500 and the second for Rp. 6,000 (these tolls are payable on the return trip as well). Often the driver will pay these tolls and expect reimbursement but sometimes the drive will ask you, the passenger, to pay. In that case give the driver Rp. 10,000 and after he pays the second toll he will give you the change.

Blue Bird Taxi
There are many taxi companies to choose from however, The Blue Bird Group has set the standard for dependability, safety and service over time.

There are 3 levels of service. The workhorse of the fleet is the Blue Bird Taxi. These queue up outside the terminal and are mixed in among the other cabs. Since you are expected to take the taxi at the front of the line you may not get a taxi from the Blue Bird group. Our recommendation is wait in the queue until a Blue Bird Taxi is available however keep in mind other savy travelers may be doing the same thing...

A little know added safety feature of all Blue Bird Group taxis is a hidden security device which, if activated, enables the dispatcher to overhear and record the conversation between the driver and passenger or intruder. In an emergency, an alert goes out and the taxi is quickly surrounded by other taxis of the same company to ensure the safety of the passenger and driver. There is no need to wait for a lengthy, uncertain response from the police.

Silver Bird / Golden Bird
There is a counter for Silver Bird and Golden Bird Taxis conveniently located just outside the customs area and before you enter the meeting area. All first time visitors are encouraged to book their taxi at this counter. Additionally the company has taxis at all 4 & 5 star hotels throughout the city.

As such, the strongest recommendation is to book a “Silver Bird Taxi” at the counter noted above. Silver Bird taxis are imported Nissan Cedric or Volvo sedans (while Golden Bird taxis are Mercedes sedans) and feature extra leg room, trunk space, air conditioning and courteous service. Silver Bird drivers are usually quite fluent in English and are familiar with Jakarta office buildings, embassies, shopping centers and tourist areas. Silver Bird taxis start at Rp. 4,500.- at the flag drop (approx. 50 cents US) compared to Rp. 4,000.- for a standard taxi (a steal in our book).

Other Ground Transport - Damri Buses
We would be remiss if we didn't mention the DAMRI Bus. Owned by the government, Damri buses are a public, low cost but effective alternative for the budget traveler to get from the airport to downtown Jakarta. DAMRI buses leave the airport at approximately 40 minute intervals - or whenever the bus is full. Last time we checked, the fare was Rp. 9,000.- You are dropped off at either Blok M Mall in South Jakarta or the Gambir Railway Station in the Central Business District where, in either location, you can get a taxi or bajaj (see photo at top of page).

You pay upon boarding the bus and you must load your luggage yourself. Not for everyone but if you have time, don't have much luggage and want to experience Jakarta up close and personal - here's your chance.

Jakarta Hotels - Bajaj
Renting a Car

Even the most jaded and experienced travelers are well advised NOT to exercise this otherwise convenient option.

The reasons are legion, notwithstanding the fact that there are only two recognizable car rental companies (HERTZ and AVIS). Jakarta traffic jams (macet in Indonesian) are legendary, roads signs are in Indonesian are often misleading and confusing. Available maps are out of date. There are any number of obstacles in the roads and the enforcement of conventional practices such as stopping for a red light is generally not pursued. This coupled with local drivers practicing the “Look Out” method of driving, as in “look out, here I come” and you have one of the most creative (dangerous) environments one could imagine.

But perhaps most of all - you do not want to be driving and have a car accident in Jakarta (trust us on this one).

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