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Baliís Empty Buses

Bali Trans-Sarbagita Bus System's Low Fares Failing to Attract Passengers

(10/11/2013) Now into its third year of operation, Bali’s Trans Sarbagita Integrated Bus System only averages a 30% load factor or about 2,500 passengers a day.

As reported by Bali Daily (The Jakarta Post), I.B. Made Parsa, the coordinator of Trans Sarbagita says that 70% of those who ride the busses are comprised of students. “Last year, the load factor reached 2,800 persons per day, because the services were free of charge,” Parsa said. 



However, during the first half of 2013, the average number of passengers taking the bus reached only 2,300 per day. Adding: “During the APEC Summit, the number of passengers has dropped drastically as buses and public transportation were banned from entering the venue area in Nusa Dua.”

Sarbagita derives it names from the areas intended to be served by the public bus system: DenpaSAR, BAdung, GIanyar and TAbanan.

Launched in 2011 as a measure to reduce traffic congestion, the busses were supplied by the Ministry of Transportation with operational costs to the province's account.

Parsa said: “We are expecting to reach breakeven point after five years of operation. Up to the present, the provincial administration provides 
Rp 5 billion [US$438,000] in operational subsidies, while the total operational cost reaches Rp 8 billion per year.”

Future plans are to privatize, at least in part, the bus system. 

“With this scheme, it will be easier and more flexible for the management to run the operation. Relying on government subsidies will be quite complicated due to the strict 
bureaucracy,” Parsa explained.

The current fare is Rp 3,500 (30 US cents) per journey that covers an air-conditioned journey from Batubulan to Nusa Dua, on the system's longest route. A taxi over the same distance could cost Rp. 150,000.

A survey conducted by Udayana University showed that only 6% of the respondents has actually ridden the Trans-Sarbagita system. Reasons given for not using the bus included: uncertain schedules and the lack of seating for disabled and elderly passengers.

The system operates on corridors of service between Batubulan – Nusa Dua and Denpasar to Jimbaran. Plans are to extend service to an eventual 17 corridors. Trial operations have also commenced on a new Trans-Sarbagita service to Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport.

The estimated 8,000 people working at the airport and the many thousands of passengers who fly in and out of the airport each day could help add the additional passengers desperately needed to make the bus system viable.

Officials estimate private vehicle ownership in Bali increases 12% each year adding to the growing congestion of Bali's roadways.