Uber to Offer Jakarta Commuters a Ride

Congestion makes an unwelcome return to Jakarta's main roads this week as the 3-in-1 carpool system is suspended during rush hours. (SP Photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

By : Dion Bisara | on 7:27 PM May 23, 2014
Category : Business, Corporate News, Featured

Motorists wait in traffic along Jl MH Thamrin in one of Jakarta's near-daily traffic jams. (SP Photo/Joanito De Saojoao) Motorists wait in traffic along Jl MH Thamrin in one of Jakarta's near-daily traffic jams. (SP Photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

Leipzig. Uber, a transportation network company, is putting the final touches on its plans to start operation in Jakarta, as part of its expansion in Southeast Asia region.

The San Francisco-based company, which is looking for a $12 billion valuation, according to a Wall Street Journal report, is recruiting local talents to assume the responsibilities of a general manager, community manager, and operations manager.

Uber make smartphone applications that allow motorists — from licensed taxi drivers, rental car businesses, to part time students and housewives — to earn money by providing rides to other Uber customers at a price lower than a regular taxi service .

Corey Owens, head of public policy at Uber said the company is “eager” to come to Jakarta.

“It’s [Jakarta] growing very fast and has transportation problems,” Owens said on the sidelines of the International Transport Forum Summit 2014 on Thursday.

When asked whether Jakartans would enjoy their services by the end this year or next year, Owens replied: “I do not know the exact timeline, but we would like it to be sooner than later.”

Uber will offer its premium services, Uber Black, seeking to start working with drivers of premium sedans, such as Toyota Camry, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Nissan Teana.

“But we are also working on low-cost options; on how we can get local drivers of cheaper vehicles,” he said.

Uber operates in over 100 cities around the world, including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Bangkok.

For Indonesia, Uber will also add competition to the country’s limo services, which so far have been dominated by Limousine Express, the premium taxi service of listed taxi company Express Transindo Utama, and Blue Bird’s Silver Bird.

Bambang Susantono, deputy transport minister, said the government supports any technology-and community-based innovations in the field of transportation.

“We realize that in the future, transport will be driven massively by big data technology that will help ease traffic by encouraging a more efficient use of roads and vehicles,” Bambang said.

“However, if the service required payments and somebody took monetary gain from it, then it would have to comply with our regulations.”

He added that safety and liability are the country’s top criteria in issuing licenses to public transport service providers.

Uber is no stranger to red tape, having faced regulators from around the world in its efforts to line up the company’s service with established safety standards, while also facing pressure from established taxi providers, whose businesses are under threat from the newcomer’s presence.

“I don’t blame them for being confused. This discussion has been about whether we’re a taxi service or not,” Owens said.

“Instead, we should having a discussion of what is good for customers and what is better for customers.”

The Jakarta Globe was invited to the 2014 summit by the International Transport Forum.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the forum as the International Transport Service Summit 2014. It is the International Transport Forum Summit 2014.

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