Tuesday, May 8, 2012

'I am the passenger'

Carpooling laws in Jakarta have spawned a new business -- jockeying, or filling the seats in fancy cars so they meet the multi-passenger requirement. This Australian news dispatch [thanks to eagle-eyed Zach C. for catching it and sending it to me] shows how it works:
Hundreds of men, women and children line the main arteries of the Indonesian capital every weekday, offering to ride in private vehicles during rush hours, when cars are obliged to carry at least three passengers on key stretches. The "jockeys" -- as they are known -- do not stick out their thumbs like typical hitchhikers around the world. Here, one finger signifies a jockey working solo, while two offers a pair, usually a mother with a child in tow or a baby in a batik sling. In a country where millions are struggling to climb out of poverty and into an expanding middle class the jockeys -- who charge about a dollar a ride -- have turned their services into a career.
Meanwhile, the carpooling requirements, meant to cut down on traffic, have had no effect. Indeed, 1,000 additional cars join the cacophony on the city's streets every day--and projections are that in two years time Jakarta's streets could become completely gridlocked, with cars not able to move at all at rush hours.

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