Bali governor axes public bus system, calling it ‘silly’

Goodbye Trans Sarbagita. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Bali Governor I Wayan Koster says he’s scaling Bali’s Trans Sarbagita Bus service down to just one line, calling the public bus system, “silly”.

The system, launched in 2011, is not practical with the public’s preference for cars and motorbikes and is draining Bali Province’s Regional Revenue and Expenditure Budget (APBD), says the island’s new governor, laying on the criticism thick. 

People see the purchase of a car, or even a  motorbike as a “source of pride” or “prestige,” Koster said on Monday, speaking from his office in Denpasar.

The Trans Sarbagita bus has been met with minimal interest, according to Koster.

“After just trying the Sarbagita bus now, I thought to myself, ‘Who had this silly idea?’. So now I stop it. We’ve put a lot of money into it. It’s a loss going from Gianyar to here. People want to take motorbikes without stopping and waiting long in the rain,” Koster said, as quoted by Detik.

Koster did say, however, that he would consider keeping the bus route going to Udayana University in Jimbaran running. But he added that other options for public transport in Bali need to be explored–we couldn’t agree more. Traffic in Bali–especially in the busy southern end–could really use some congestion-busting. The new underpass in front of the island’s airport has helped to a degree, but it’s certainly no miracle cure. 

“The model is not suitable, so now I stop it, I stop the Sarbagita bus. For now, just going to Udayana, to Jimbaran, outside of that, it’s stopping. Because APBD is wasting gas. The empty buses are being given money. This formula is wrong and needs to be replaced. Don’t force it. Let’s think about another model.”

We wish he’d also say something about the state of the vehicles that could surely use increased checks and servicing, infamous for jetting out thick black puffs of smoke, to the dismay of all the motorbike drivers inhaling all the fumes.

The Trans Sarbagita previously starting operating on Aug. 18, 2011. It’s a shame the system never really took off, because it’s a seriously economical option for passengers: the tickets cost just IDR3,500 (US$0.23) for the public and a mere IDR3,000 (US$0.20) for students, while feeder busses to the bus stop are only IDR3,000 for the public and IDR2,500 (US$0.16) for students.

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