Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Street Lessons

Jakarta streets have become more congested with new motorcycles and private cars are leaving showrooms every single day. To make it worse, some of the major streets become even narrower instead of wider, as one of the lanes is used for the Trans-Jakarta Busway.

The data from the Indonesian International Motor Show 2007 revealed that 6,025 cars were sold during the 10-day exhibition ended last Saturday, up from 5,405 cars from that of last year. It equals to IDR1.3 trillion in sales.

New car gives prestige for the company and the individual who owns it. For others, it gives peace of mind rather than having risk of buying a bad used car.

The cost of the prestige is quite expensive though. A new car with a price tag of IDR350 million can lose its value by IDR100 million just in one year after the purchase. An IDR1.6 billion car may lose its value by IDR400 million in a year, or IDR1 billion after 5 years.

It’s been five years since my previous employer bought a new Metallic Green Mitsubishi Gallant V6 for me to use it. I bought the car when I left the company, and I’m still using it now. Its value now is 40% only of the original price.

My dream car is shamefully a Range Rover Vogue. It’s quite an expensive dream, and there’s no way I would buy a new one. Even the 2002 model will cost me well above IDR500 million, and the idea of losing IDR200 million for the following two years really kills me. How many beggars and poor people can I support using that amount of money?

While trying to get away from the foolish dream, for a couple of days I went to office using taxi and leave the car peacefully at home. A few thoughts came to my mind after picking up the phone to make the booking.

It definitely saves my energy as I need not to drive in this chaotic street of Jakarta. It also reduces number of cars on the street by one. Does it matter? It doesn’t, of course, but what about if twenty five thousand managers in Jakarta leave their cars at home for just once in a week? It does matter.

By leaving my car at home, I can share some of my income to the taxi drivers as well. Besides, I have the opportunity to chat with the drivers and get some interesting knowledge.

Last night I had a chat with the taxi driver who drove me back home from office. He’s two years younger than me, but he looked like ten years older and fragile. I might be wrong though, since that’s actually my biggest problem: I feel young, most of the time.

He didn’t finish his 3rd year at the elementary school, and yet he could speak a lot about politics in the upcoming Jakarta Governor Election, education, poverty reduction and how lawmakers could significantly contribute to it, the recent scuffles between the President and an expelled legislator, and about Indonesia women that he said are among the smartest women in the world.

He probably learned some of those stuffs from his passengers, or inspired by them. Taxi drivers have a lot of opportunities to accumulate wonderful knowledge and wisdom by listening and communicating with their customers, and hence listening and having conversation with them can be quite enlightening. No wonder that Taxi had been used as title for song and movie, and it sells.

I believe that there are numerous street lessons that many people have got by using other means of public transportation or sharing empty space in their cars with others. Unfortunately, using the service of public transportation in Jakarta is still quite challenging, tiring and is not yet that safe.

Just recently that Trans-Jakarta bus management has decided to operate a full fleet of the buses that will lessen a little bit the pain of the passengers especially during peak hours.

We need more efficient, more comfortable and safer public transportation, in a way that more people will be encouraged to leave their motorcycles or cars at home while having the opportunities to learn some of the street wisdom. Jakarta is progressing towards that direction. The progress is quite slow though.

It’s still a question as to when we will be able to ride on an express train to get to Soekarno-Hatta Airport from the center of the city. Monorail Project faces financing problems, and just only recently that the project would be continued after being stopped for a couple of months. Meanwhile I haven’t heard any news about the subway project that was frozen since the financial crisis.

Let’s hope that Jakartans will choose the best governor on August 8 who can speed up the transformation of Jakarta to be a modern mega-city, so that people can enjoy more traveling in public transportation while learning street wisdom rather than being trapped in traffic jams everyday and get stress instead.

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  1. Buying an expensive car doesn't indicate someone is a millionaire. The first generation millionaire always keeps his saving or investment at a level to generate net worth that can provide income stream, even without working for 10 years. Unless he's a second or third generation millionaire (from a wealthy family).

  2. wah andai semua org di jakarta punya pemikiran seperti mas yah :). btw stuju sm taxi driver itu, indonesian women memang pintar2 kok dan kuat secara fisik dan mental :)

  3. I'm so amazed of how expensive cars in Indonesia can be. And thank you for your caring heart.

  4. walopun cuman sopir taksi bisa jadi dia lebih 'pinter' even he hasn't finished his school

    tidak semua orang menilai manusia dari fisiknya atau pekerjaannya, sapa tau bisa dari rumahnya, mobilnya, deposito atau tabungannya

  5. soal mobil yg mahal2 banget itu...aku suka mikir, yg beli tuh kok ya punya aja ya uang sebanyak itu...lha kalo aku harga 500jt,, bisa2 makan tidur dan buang air di mobil,lha rumahnya dijual buat beli mobil mahal...wah,katrok !!

  6. @anymatters: agree bung, more people need to read The Richest Man in Babylon, and learn simple money management

    @ ati: aku pikir pasti banyak yg berpikiran sama koq jeng, sebagian besar sudah sudah melakukan, sebagian lagi mungkin masih di angan2 :); aku juga stuju tentang indonesian women itu...

    @ Jennie: the car steep prices and the gasoline price hike have made many people swicth to motorcycles that now packed Jakarta streets; with TransJakarta bus service improvements, hope things getting better. txs for the kind words jeng.

    @ T A T A R I: iya, don't judge the book by its cover, tapi banyak juga lho yg judge the book by its backcover, ato baca endorsement orang, baru beli :)

    @ Endang: ada bumi ada langit jeng :), sudah jadi adat dunia. yg udah di langit perlu sering2 turun ke bumi, yg di bumi sekali2 perlu nengok langit untuk nambah smangat...

  7. wieda1:37 PM

    wow..jalan yg lebar di jkt jadi sempit...tapi mobil mewah di Indonesia itu melebihi negara2 lan looh..
    Wah aseek juga yah ngobrol sama taxy driver...aku pernah juga tuh ngobrol sama taxy driver mengasikkan sekali...
    Semoga cepat ada monoreel ato mrt ato apa saja yg menghubungkan airport jtk dan downtown jkt
    sttt..aku juga suka looh range rover...apalagi yg discovery....

  8. Seandainya,... para pemilik kendaraan pribadi berahli semua memakai kendaraan umum...

    Jalanan gak terlalu padat, polusi yang dikeluarkan juga gak banyak...

    Enak mana mas, naik kendaraan umum apa pribadi??? hehehe

  9. @wieda: to be fair, banyak juga sih jalan yg jadi lebih lebar jeng; flyover juga bertebaran dan sangat membantu; discovery-nya juga ok jeng, belinya kalo udah murah ya :)....

    @pyuriko: kayaknya banyak juga koq jeng yg ninggalin mobil pribadi di rumah... Ada yg spedaan juga. Ada trade-off jeng apakah memakai mobil pribadi atau kendaraan umum; dua-duanya bisa diasikin :)