Qute is a relatively new form of transportation in Jakarta, but for the driver there are still quite a lot of challenges.
What time do you leave for work each day, pak?
I leave my house around 4:30, start taking passengers around 6:00 and finish at 18:00. My kid has a house in North Jakarta, around Kota Tua, so if I'm too tired to go back to Depok I can stay at their house. I take the train home to Depok usually, and leave my Qute in an emtpy lot around LBH Cikini which costs IDR5rb.
How long have you been operating a Qute, Pak?
The Qute? Not long, just a year. It hasn't been long since the Qute was launched in Jakarta, too; first in the area around Kota Tua to replace the 3-wheeled 'Bemos' there. These days the Bemos aren't allowed to operate because they're too old, already more than 60 years. They came to Jakarta in 1962 at the time of the first Asian Games, still during the era of President Bung Karno. The older models are still allowed on the roads but they can't take passengers.
How did you come by your Qute, Pak?
This is from a private businessperson who sold it to us on credit with a IDR10million down payment, monthly installments of IDR2.8million for 3 years, and exchanging the old Bemo model. Because they can't be operated anymore and so that they still have something to do, people were given this opportunity to change. But the number of passengers is less with the Qute; the Bemos could take 7-8 people plus the driver, but the Qute is limited to 5.
How does the Qute operate, Pak?
This is a non-route taxi, so we can operate anywhere within the areas previously serviced by Bemos. However, if the customer wants to anywhere else, we could do that too.
On average how many customers use your Qute?
So, using the bemo each person paid for themselves, with different destinations as long as it's on the same route. Most of the people we take now are going to one of the hospitals nearby, or to the legal aid centre in Cikini. The tariff is IDR5rb per person, regardless of the distance. We can also accept charters, for example to Tanah Abang for IDR50rb. We will still negotiate of course, but if the price is appropriate then we'll just take them.
According to your experience, is the old Bemo model or the newer Qute more profitable, Pak?
Clearly the older model. We didn't use to have credit schemes like this, and now we are in debt.
How about the daily income pak?
There’s a lot of competition these days, especially from the online transport options. We start at 6am, and until 6pm the net income is barely enough to cover food and expenses. If we get a gross income of IDR300rb, minus 110 for the Qute payments, another 50 for fuel, food and ciggarettes cost another 40.. We might take home IDR100rb on a good day, you know?
What’s the difference between bajaj, Qute and Kancil models?
Bajaj are three-wheeled, and can’t enter the toll roads, whereas Qute are four-wheeled and they are allowed to enter. The old orange bajaj have already been changed to the newer, blue models, and these days Qute are replacing the bemos which no longer operate.
So you have never changed profession?
I’ve been working with the bemo since 1990s, before that I worked at a garage. I’m too old now to change jobs again, I think.
Is there some kind of community group for Qute drivers?
In the era of the bemo there was something called the Jakarta bemo association, but there’s nothing like that for bemo yet, it’s still only a year old.
Could you tell us the relationship between Angkot and bemo?
So, before, in the years 1996-97 bemos were rejuvinated by the Angkutan Pengganti
Bemo (APB) [bemo replacers association], but there are still some who didn’t get involved. That’s why some left over bemos are still operating in Jakarta.
How do you feel about the popularity of angkot in Jakarta?
Well, the income dropped steeply, maybe by 50%, because people wanted to try the APB program. Eventually people started doing half days between the old bemo and the APB. Why I didn’t decide to change to the APB? At that time the bemo weren’t restricted, and for a long time the custom was stable.
Terimakasih Pak for your time.