MRT Jakarta: Bundaran HI to Lebak Bulus Grab by Ratangga Train

The MRT Jakarta is the newest rapid transit system in Indonesia, spanning 15.7 km from Bundaran HI under the main shopping district of Jakarta to Lebak Bulus Grab in South Jakarta. After a failed trial on my first-ever MRT ride, I headed back to Bundaran HI via Dukuh Atas BNI without exiting the station in order to try the full route from its actual starting point.

The MRT Jakarta operates at 10-minute frequencies at most times throughout the day, except for super off-peak periods near the start and closing times, at 15-minute frequencies.

Unfortunately, the frequency seems to be fixed regardless of actual crowd in the system.

As the MRT “Ratangga” train was already full, I had to wait for the next Ratangga.

I headed to the end of the platform where more space was available.

Hmm, that’s fast.

Boarding the slightly emptier part of the Ratangga at the end.

The information screens above each door showing the route information and current location.

An evacuation route map is also pasted in the Ratangga just like almost all other trains in Indonesia.

An emergency intercom is also located beside each alternate door.

The numbering system of the Ratangga follows the existing numbering system for most Indonesian trains.

The grab poles and hand grips position follow a very Japanese layout.

The interior of the MRTJ 1000 series “Ratangga”.

Crossing over the scissors crossover at Bundaran HI to head to the right side of the track. Despite being a modern system in Jakarta, a right-hand drive country, the MRT Jakarta follows the Dutch left-hand drive direction along the double-track alignment.

Heading for Dukuh Atas BNI MRT Station. The stations with naming rights have their sponsors’ names in smaller text on the station signs around the system.

Approaching the station, the dynamic route map shows the current car you are in and the positions of the staircase, escalator and lifts on the platform.

The dynamic route map also shows the side which the doors will open.

Making a brief stop at Dukuh Atas BNI.

Making a brief stop at Setiabudi Astra.

Making a brief stop at Bendungan Hilir.

Making a brief stop at Istora Mandiri.

Making a brief stop at Senayan.

After Senayan, the Ratangga heads up from the underground sector to the elevated sector.

Heading out of the tunnels.

Making a brief stop at ASEAN.

ASEAN is an interchange with the Koridor 13 Transjakarta at CSW Halt.

Unfortunately, despite being so closely located, there is no direct elevated linkway between the two stations.

Approaching Blok M.

Blok M is the only station along the line with 3 tracks and 4 platforms, presumably for Ratanggas to turn back around for a higher level of service between Bundaran HI and Blok M during peak periods.

Making a brief stop at Blok M.

Instead of passengers alighting, more passengers got on the Ratangga from here.

The even more crowded interior of the Ratangga after Blok M.

Departing from Blok M. Seems like provisions for a longer platform have been made at all elevated stations.

Making a brief stop at Blok A.

Seems like the opposing Ratangga is packed till the brim too.

Making a brief stop at Haji Nawi.

Seems like the MRT Jakarta uses 3-letter codes for their stations too.

Making a brief stop at Cipete Raya.

On the curve to Fatmawati, an extra guard rail is in place.

Hopefully, passengers will switch to the MRT Jakarta and avoid the Jakarta jams soon.

Approaching Fatmawati.

Making a brief stop at Fatmawati.

Passing by modern buildings on the way towards Lebak Bulus Grab.

Approaching Lebak Bulus Grab.

The MRT Jakarta depot is located just beside Lebak Bulus Grab.

Arriving at Lebak Bulus Grab.

Seems like some news coverage on the MRT Jakarta going on.

Arrived at Lebak Bulus Grab, the terminal station.

The emptied-out interior of the Ratangga at Lebak Bulus Grab.

All passengers must alight at Lebak Bulus Grab as the turnback siding is after the platform.

After all passengers have cleared from the Ratangga, the Ratangga departs.

The turnback siding forms the line towards the depot too.

Once ready for the next departure, the Ratangga heads for the departure platform.

The station sign of Lebak Bulus Grab, without the update for “Grab” to be part of the station name.

Heading down to the concourse level.

The concourse level of Lebak Bulus Grab.

Passengers were stopped from entering the platform due to overcrowding.

I planned to head out of the station just to have a look…

… but realising the long stagnant line to enter the station again, I skipped it.

From here, I headed back up to the departure platform to go back to Bundaran HI.

Overall, my first full-route ride on the MRT Jakarta and Ratangga was a negative eye-opening experience to see a new rapid transit system already at crush loads before the actual commercial revenue service. Not sure if this was an underestimation of the demand or not. Also, despite many other Ratanggas sleeping in the depot, no extra trains were deployed to improve the low frequency of the MRT Jakarta.

As a few commuters commented which I overheard, they actually prefer the older KRL as trains are about twice as long (at 12 cars), come a lot more frequently (every 3 minutes), and fares are a lot cheaper. For a parallel comparison, getting the TransJakarta busway from Lebak Bulus to Bundaran HI via Harmoni would cost only Rp.3,500 but the MRT Jakarta would cost Rp.14,000.

Once the full fares are in place, the MRT Jakarta crowd would probably die down, and might also unfortunately only be used by those who can afford it. As such, the passengers on the crowded free trial days might just be seizing a first and last opportunity to ride on the MRT before they are unable to on a regular basis.

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