Jakarta. The annual Idul Fitri exodus, locally known as mudik, marks one of the busiest travel periods in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country.
With millions of people traveling to their hometowns to celebrate the end of Ramadan with family, effective coordination of transportation is key to ensure travelers' safety and comfort during this time.
The Ministry of Transportation estimates that around 19.5 million people will be using public transportation during this year's exodus, which is an increase of more than 5 percent from last year.
While exodus traffic peaked during the two days before Idul Fitri, officials expect the return flow to peak on Wednesday (20/06).
The Transportation Ministry has implemented a program known as Mudik Gratis, or Free Mudik, in a bid to reduce traffic accidents. The program encourages travelers, especially those on motorcycles, to use other modes of transportation, including trains, ships and buses.
"Don't travel back home by motorcycle; it's dangerous on long-distance trips, especially when you are with your family and also carrying a lot of baggage," Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said, as quoted by BeritaSatu.com.
The ministry has more than doubled this year's quota of 39,446 two-wheelers that will be shipped to travelers' hometowns.
In addition to the program, the government has also increased services and improved infrastructure to support the mass exodus.
State-run railway operator Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) will operate 393 trains to transport an estimated 4.70 million passengers during this year's Idul Fitri holiday.
The Transportation Ministry said it has conducted inspections of trains and facilities, and also set up posts in several locations, especially areas prone to landslides, to ensure passenger safety.
The ministry expects that approximately 5.87 million people will travel by air during this year's Idul Fitri holiday, most of them to domestic destinations. This is almost 11 percent more than last year.
"To ensure good service during the Idul Fitri exodus, we have asked airlines to increase their seating capacity to exceed the expected total number of passengers by about 5 percent. There will be 5,996,342 seats available on domestic flights and 1,212,670 on international flights," Agus Santoso, director general of civil aviation at the Transportation Ministry, said in a statement in April.
National and international airlines have made 538 aircraft available to accommodate the expected increase in the number of air travelers during this year's holiday exodus.
Around 12.4 million people are expected to travel by private vehicle during this year's Idul Fitri exodus, with the Jakarta-Cikampek, Cikopo-Palimanan and Jakarta-Merak toll roads likely to again be the most heavily congested.
In a bid to mitigate serious problems experienced in previous years, the government has completed construction of several new toll roads. These are:
Pejagan-Pemalang Toll Road
The 37-kilometer toll road between Pejagan and Pemalang in Central Java serves as an alternative for travelers heading to Semarang, the provincial capital. Motorists using the Cikopo-Paliaman Toll Road could previously only reach the city through the East Brebes exit, which became embroiled in controversy in 2016 when 12 travelers reportedly died of exhaustion while trapped in a massive traffic jam.
Pemalang-Batang Toll Road
The 39-km toll road, which opened on June 8, forms part of the Trans-Java Toll Road.
Bogor-Ciawi-Sukabumi Toll Road
The 15.3-km first section of what is better known as the Bocimi Toll Road between Ciawi and Cigombong district in West Java, opened on June 8. It was built at a cost of Rp 3.1 trillion ($223 million).
Batang-Semarang Toll Road
The 75-km toll road between Batang district on the north coast of Central Java and Semarang also opened on June 8.