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Indonesia pulls private buses off roads after deadly accident

by April 9, 2016 General

Indonesia has pulled 1,600 private buses off its roads after a weekend bus crash in which 18 people died.

Witnesses say the driver of a Metro Mini bus ignored a warning siren at a level crossing in West Jakarta and drove around a safety barrier onto train tracks.

The bus was struck by a train and dragged for about 200 metres.

Eighteen people were killed, including the driver and his assistant. There was just one survivor.

It is at least the 32nd accident at a level crossing in Jakarta this year, many of them involve buses that are often stopping to pick up passengers.

Critics say driver training is poor and the buses are in terrible condition.

Removing private buses will make life even more difficult for frazzled commuters in a city where children and toddlers ride on their parents’ motorbikes, without helmets, painted lane markings are there for decoration rather than guidance, and a red traffic light means the car behind yours has to stop.

Jakarta’s transport office says it has pulled 1,600 Metro Minis off the road, although on the streets, there appear to be plenty of the buses remaining.

On a wet Jakarta weekday, the traffic slows to walking pace, which makes it a lot easier for commuters to jump aboard a faded orange Metro Mini.

The mid-sized buses do not have designated stops, so passengers get on and off where they like.

There is a reasonable chance of getting bowled over by a scooter on the journey from the footpath to the bus, but at 40 cents a ride, most passengers think it is worth the risk.

“In regards to the safety, no matter how it is, when it’s time to die, you’ll die anyway,” said passenger Andi.

One passenger, Sadzili, has been catching the orange bus for 10 years.

“I think it’s safe. I’m just a little bit worried when about to cross a rail track,” he said.

A busker, Heri Sandi, climbs aboard in the stalled traffic.

“In one day I’ll get on about 70 to 80 buses from the morning to the afternoon,” he said.

The accident has been on his mind.

“I’m scared for sure,” he said.

“The bus tipped over like that and people died being crushed.”

Another passenger, Hamim, is dubious about recalling the buses.

“About plans like that, well before they take these buses off the streets they need to provide the replacements,” Hamim said.

“Without any replacement what would passengers do?”

Andi wishes Jakarta could emulate the transport of other cities.

“Air conditioned, where they queue in order, like they have overseas,” he said.

“They queue, there’s discipline, unlike what we have here.

“In Singapore and Europe, they queue, they stop in proper stops.

“Here they stop wherever they want to stop.”

It is hoped a new underground train line, due to be completed in about three years, will remove some of the risks of the road for the city of 10 million people.