As hundreds of thousands of tourists are making their way home after celebrating Christmas and New Year in Bali, the island’s usual traffic chaos has gone from bad to worse.
Provincial authorities are putting emergency measures in place to tackle the problem.
The Minister of Transportation, Budi Karya Sumadi, has confirmed that a temporary shuttle bus service will operate from 2nd -4th January to help combat gridlock on Bali’s roads.
The emergency shuttle bus scheme will see 31 Trans Dewata government-owned public transport buses deployed as tourist shuttle buses to help get as many tourists to the airport on time as possible.
The move comes at the Mandara Toll Road, and the roads leading to I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport have been in near gridlock since Friday evening.
Over the last few days, hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists had to abandon their taxis and transfer vehicles along the highways and start walking the rest of the way to the airport just to be in with a chance of making their flight on time.
Minister Sumadi said, “On January 2nd 2024 it will start operating, so there are quite a lot of buses, we have agreed to make shuttle buses from the airport to Nusa Dua, Kuta Central Parking, and Benoa, and also buses that travel along Kuta, Legian, Canggu.”
This free shuttle service is for tourists needing to get to the airport. Services are running every 15 minutes
He added “It is important to carry out socialization. I ask the Airport Authority, the Bali Regional Police Chief, and the governor to inform the public and airlines that on January 2nd, shuttle bus pick-up and drop-off activities will be carried out.”
The Minister was clear that this emergency and short-term solution must help inform longer-term solutions for tourist transportation on the island.
There are already plans in place to establish the Bali Railway Network which would create a metro line between the airport and the beach resorts around Seminyak.
Now, Minister Sumadi has also suggested that new flyover roads will be built in the Canggu area, in addition to the Gilimanuk-Mengwi Highway toll road which is also under construction.
Minster Sumadi said “Two weeks ago I came here to talk about the LRT so that we could build it immediately. God willing, next year we will have a groundbreaking.”
“It is a necessity that Bali has urban mass transportation, you can no longer just use private transportation, because tourist activities are already massive, especially tourist attractions.”
However, these projects will all take years to accomplish and cause more chaos on the roads as construction is underway, which has tourists and communities asking will these solutions be impactful enough?
Over this festive season, a record-breaking number of vehicles have been on Bali’s roads.
Officials revealed that approximately 73,000 vehicles have been using the Mandala Toll Road every day this past week. The authorities were only anticipating a daily usage of around 38,000 vehicles.
While the roads leading to Bali Airport are packed, there is also a mass exodus of tourists heading to the west.
The majority of international tourists arrive directly at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport. However, a huge proportion of domestic tourists who have traveled to Bali for the festive season traveled overland and sea with their own vehicles from Java.
Traffic in the west of Bali is set to be intense over the next two days as tourists begin their road trips back to Java. However, the peak of the traffic was predicted to fall on the 2nd January.
Travelers taking the ferry from Gilimanuk to Ketapang are being urged to book tickets one day in advance on the Ferizy platform and to avoid buying tickets from brokers to be 100% sure of the ticket’s legitimacy.
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