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Bali’s Public Bus Service Is Going Unused By Tourists Despite Cheap Fares

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Tourists love Bali, there is no doubt about it. But one of the most common gripes amongst travelers to the Island of the Gods is the lack of public transport.

With millions of popes exploring the island every year, the roads are struggling with the increasing amount of vehicles. 

Trans Metro Dewata Buses at Bus Terminal in Bali.jpg

The thing is, is that there is a public bus system running in Bali, and tourists are able to use it. It’s super cheap and does operate in and around some of the leading resort destinations.

The Trans Metro Dewata System operates across five routes in the most developed part of the island.

The bus services run from 4.30 am until 10 pm daily. So why aren’t tourists making the most of the service?

@memedkurniawan92 Membalas @KAKOIN ♬ Outside – Fiji Blue

Well, it’s not only tourists who aren’t making the most of the Trans Metro Dewata System, the service is not utilized nearly half as much as it could be by residents either.

A ride on the Trans Metro Dewata System costs just IDR 4,000 and IDR 2,00 for the elderly and students.

Fares are just a fraction of the cost of hiring a taxi or private driver, or even driving a rented vehicle. 

The five routes cover a decent proportion of the heart of the island. Route Corridor One for example connects Central Parking Kuta with Terminal Persiapan in Tabanan.

Route Corridor Two is perhaps the most useful to tourists since it runs from I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport and stops at Central Parking in Kuta and at two central points within the resort hotspots.  

Indonesian economic and transportation writer Fabian Rita recently shared an in-depth review of the Trans Metro Dewata System and noted that although the service is easy enough to use there are big improvements to be made.

He feels that the current routes need to be better optimized in order for residents and tourists to really benefit from the service. 

As part of the SMART @ Ubud shuttle service trial, the Toyota Mobility Fund has installed new interactive maps at some of the busiest bus stops in Bali to help make it easier for travelers to navigate the island by bus.

However, the far more impactful initiative from the partnership between the Toyota Mobility Fund and the Bali Provincial Government was the launch of the SMART @ Ubud shuttle service.

The dial-a-ride style shuttle bus service has been up and running for a little over two months now and will continue through to the New Year.

The free shuttle bus service is currently in operation in Ubud but if the trial is successful there is scope for a similar system to be rolled out in other popular tourist destinations around the island. 

Tourists-Walk-Outside-Ubud-Palace-in-Bali

The shuttle service in Ubud is perhaps even easier to use than the Trans Metro Dewata System especially since everything is booked through an app.

Tourists must download the SMART Shuttle @Ubud app onto their smartphone and set up a free account. 

Ubud-Palace-Entrance-Bali

Once registered, tourists are able to book a ride to and from any of the 21 stops along the route. Simply sleet the start point, destination, the time of pick up and the number of passengers and the bus will arrive on time. 

The SMART Shuttle @Ubud stops at leading destinations like the Monkey Forest, the Ubud District Office, the Lapangan Astina Field, and the Ubud Art Market Building.

The service also stops at the cafes along Jalan Hanuman and then goes all the way up to Bintang Supermarket and the Hotel Tjampuhan opposite the Penestanan Stairs. 

Tourists-Hang-Out-In-Central-Ubud-Market

While Bali has grand plans to construct major new roads and a game-changing rail system in the coming years, tourists currently have plenty of options available to them.

The Trans Metro Dewata System and the SMART Shuttle @Ubud may not be perfect but for those traveling on a super tight budget, it may be well worth spending the extra few minutes coordinating a route on public transport rather than forking out for private transportation alternatives. 

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Greg Richo

Monday 18th of December 2023

Have used these busses from Airport to Sanur, Denpasar and Ubud. They are cheap and very good to use. Why have I used these busses, because my wife is Indonesian and knows these busses. That is the only reason. Otherwise, if I was to try and understand the complex routes, where stops are, the lack of english timetables or signage at bus stops etc etc, where terminus's are etc .... IMPOSSIBLE. Great idea. Hopeless information and promotion.

Craig

Saturday 9th of December 2023

What an absolute joke. We were in Ubud, could not buy a ticket e-tixket, tried banks, money exchanges, marts, etc as suggested by locals. No one knew how to buy a ticket. Busses will not take cash. As a result most times there are 2 or less people on the bus

Erika Derbyshire

Monday 4th of December 2023

The bus should change the route such as : Raya pantai kuta - Seminyak - Petitenget . Or Jimbaran area such as : Purigading - to the School - Goa Gong - Kampial - Nusadua new Bypass Br Karangboma. Or to Sanur area such as : Danau Tamblingan - Pantai Sindhu - Pantai Matahari Terbit - Bali Bird Park - Or Pantai Ketewel. So many Local area and artery routes reaches the local and tourists to go some places. Some more routes to Pantai Kedungu after Terminal in Tabanan - Tanah Lot - Canggu. And if possible from Ubud straight to Lovina will be much appreciated . Matur suksma

Shorty

Monday 4th of December 2023

Increased tourist use would be great. By all means promote and make it easier to use. But the underlying problem is locals going to and from their daily business. That's the majority of traffic and should be the prime target.

Shorty

Thursday 7th of December 2023

@Raymod, ???

What does my diet and rent have to do with the buses?

If making a sensible comment is moronic,your mental ability will never be questioned.

Raymod

Wednesday 6th of December 2023

@Shorty,

What do you do to eat and pay rent you moron?

DG

Monday 4th of December 2023

It is the app that is a big problem. I tried to download it and it said my phone not compatible. Once I did get it to another phone, it was almost impossible to figure out so I gave up.