Jakarta taxis are the best, least frustrating option for visitors to get around Jakarta. Keep in mind – it’s hot, the traffic is often heavy, and it’s likely to take a while to get anywhere. Why not relax in a nice, cool air conditioned car?
Jakarta taxis are generally safe, but as in any large city, caution needs to be exercised. I have lived in Jakarta for three years and have never had a serious problem with a taxi driver that threatened my safety.
Jakarta has too many taxi companies to mention – there are thousands of taxis on the streets of Jakarta. Most of them are quite good, but there are the cowboys out there who you’ll want to avoid. The time of day makes a big difference as well. After around 9:00 p.m. someone seems to open a gate somewhere and turns the cowboys loose, so expect more problems at night.
Personally, I have never had a problem with a Jakarta taxi during the day. All the problems I have had have been at night – the driver refusing to use the meter is the main issue. The driver taking the long way around happens on occasion, and drivers get lost sometimes, but all in all, taking taxis in Jakarta is relatively hassle free if one stays alert, and vigilant.
Jakarta’s reputable taxi companies don’t tolerate dodgy drivers. Many of the companies operate on a point system in which drivers get points if a customer complains. After they accumulate a certain number of points, they are fired.
The better Taxi companies have all have fairly new cars, so an old beat up taxi usually means the driver can’t get a job with one of the good taxi services. That’s not always true – some drivers own their car and lease it to a company, and it’s the best they can afford. But, if you’re new to Jakarta, don’t know your way around, and don’t speak the language, stick to taxi services that operate new cars.
The driver’s appearance is also a good indication. Most reliable companies require their drivers to wear a uniform, or at the very least, wear clean clothes, and be well groomed.
What does the car smell like? Some drivers live in their cars; an obvious fact from the smell of dirty socks. Or, the car can smell of gasoline, which means poor mechanical condition – not worth the risk.
Should I get in This Taxi?
There are several things you can do at the beginning of a taxi trip to make yourself safer.
- Assess the condition of the car, and the driver.
- Before you get in, make sure the handle to open the door from the inside has not been removed.
- Note any strange smells as you get in.
- As you get in, check for the taxi’s number, and the phone number of the taxi company. It is usually on the door window. If you have a problem, you will be able to call the company, and they can speak to the driver.
- Ask the driver to lock the doors (silahkan mengunci pintu).
- Write down where you want to go and let the driver read the address – incorrect pronunciation causes many problems and misunderstandings.
- Sit in the back seat on the side opposite the driver so you can watch him or her.
- Insist the driver use the meter (argo).
- Write down the taxi’s number, or snap a picture of the number with your phone. You never know when you’ll leave something valuable in the taxi.
- Make sure the meter from the last passenger has been reset. If the light on the roof is on, then the meter is not running, but during the day you can’t see whether the light on the roof is on, or off. I have gotten into a taxi, and a few minutes later noticed the fare on the meter was way too high for the distance I had traveled. At that point there’s not much one can do.
Jakarta Taxi Rates
- The standard Jakarta meter rate is Rp 6000 initially, and Rp 3,000/km after the first two km.
- The discount Jakarta meter rate is Rp. 5000 initially, and Rp. 2,500/km after the first two km. Taxi companies that operate at this rate have TARIF BAWAH (low tariff) written in the top left corner of the windshield.
- The passenger is expected to pay any tolls, or parking fees.
Note: Be sure to carry lots of small bills – all taxi drivers have difficulty making change.
The Best Jakarta Taxi Companies
Blue Bird and Pusaka, collectively called Blue Bird Group, have the best reputation in the city. Their cars are light blue, with a black sun visor on the top of the windshield that says, “Blue Bird Group.” Many second rate outfits run taxis that look like Blue Bird, but they don’t have the black sun visor – beware of these. All the attention Blue Bird gets leaves one to think they are the only option, or get lulled into a false sense of security. They are an excellent company and highly recommended, but they’re not perfect, as the Jakarta Post article, “‘Joe le taxi’: Inside the Blue Bird Group," reveals. It's always pays to keep alert, even in a Blue Bird.
Blue Bird and Pusaka, collectively called Blue Bird Group, have the best reputation in the city. Their cars are light blue, with a black sun visor on the top of the windshield that says, “Blue Bird Group.” Many second rate outfits run taxis that look like Blue Bird, but they don’t have the black sun visor – beware of these.
All the attention Blue Bird gets leaves one to think they are the only option, or get lulled into a false sense of security. They are an excellent company and highly recommended, but they’re not perfect, as the Jakarta Post article, “‘Joe le taxi’: Inside the Blue Bird Group," reveals. It's always pays to keep alert, even in a Blue Bird.
Silver Bird is an executive taxi service operated by Blue Bird Group. They have black luxury cars – their meter rates are about 30% higher than their Blue Bird counterparts.
Gamya was part of Blue Bird Group at one time, and remains every bit as good as Blue Bird. They operate a fleet of new, green cars.
021 – 8779 5555/840 3838
Express is also very good – their cars are white, with a distinctive yellow light on top. They pride themselves in efficient, low cost Tarif Bawah transportation – something I feel they do quite well. 021-781-7771
Tiara Express is a new executive taxi service operated by Express. They have a fleet of luxurious, silver Toyota Aphards that use Eco friendly Autogas (LPG). The Jakarta Post article, “Premium taxi new ride downtown,” gives more information about their service. Note: The call center number in the article is incorrect – the right number is: 021-3001 0600
Putra Group operates a nice fleet of taxis, and gives good service – they are dark blue or black.
(021) 7917 1234/794 1234
Transcab’s taxis are bright orange – they feature TV’s in every car. It’s a new company and is rapidly gaining a good reputation. 021-5835 5500
Taxiku’s cars are yellow with a white light on top that says “TAKSI.” They pay the toll for trips to the airport. (021) 4786 2121
How to get a Taxi in Jakarta
From the airport – many companies have taxi stands at the airport, and there are many shady operators who will assure you they are the same as Blue Bird. Don’t buy it – it’s best to stick with reputable companies.
From Gambir Train Station – When you leave the train platform, turn right to go to the metered taxis. There will be all sorts of touts at the door, but ignore them; turn left and use one if the metered taxis such as Blue Bird, or Putra, who have a concession. If there is a busy street in front of you when you leave the train station, you’ve exited on the wrong side to get a metered taxi.
From malls and hotels – most major malls and hotels have an agreement with a taxi company to operate a concession on their property.
Calling for pickup – all good companies have call centers that a taxi can be ordered from. There is a Rp. 25,000 minimum fare charged for this service.
Hailing on the street is the most common method. Just stand on the sidewalk and plenty of taxis will slow and beep their horn – be selective – be alert – be cautious.