I never imagine myself having the chance to go underground entering the tunnel of MRT Jakarta. When turned out I had the chance, I would say I was lucky.

Everything started when Farhan from MRT Jakarta team reached me through my instagram and offered me to participate in their event. They were preparing a gathering for their instagram followers in Car Free Day that is regularly held every Sunday in central of Jakarta. So, they asked me if I could join a sharing session with other resource persons, @ijoeel and @dj_jocky, talking about Jakarta and its public transportation development through a perspective of instagram user. The event was combined with a photo challenge called #UbahJakartaChallenge (change Jakarta), competing for access to go to MRT tunnel as a prize.

It’s so exciting to see the enthusiasm of people submitting their photo that tells about Jakarta development. Within less than 3 days, around 450 photos entered the competition and we had to select 10 photos as winners to be announced during the event in Car Free Day.

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During sharing session. (Captured by @farhanhers)

I really enjoyed the ‘instameet’ event, sitting together with big names such as Ijul and Mas Jocky and sharing not only about photography, but also about our perspective towards public transport and how Jakarta is accommodating this service. There were around 200 people participated and most of them had submitted their photos to the #UbahJakartaChallenge.

At the end of the sharing session, we announced the 10 winners of the challenge. Unfortunately, two of them did not appear when their names were called. With instant creativity, the @mrtjktteam gave another challenge on the spot for the audience. They were asked to do a photo hunt in Taman Dukuh Atas, the venue of the event. Within 15 minutes, they had to upload their best shots to instagram. As a result, we got the 2 replacement winners right away. (There were around 100 pictures submitted for this on-the-spot challenge and it’s so difficult to choose only 2 of them. Man, people are so freaking fast!).

So, the group that has the eligibility for MRT underground tour was set. (Quick funny story: three people in the group had to buy new trousers at the CFD because they wore shorts before and it’s not allowed for safety reason). Fast forward, after we put all safety equipments including the boots, visitor helmet, and light vest, we were so ready to go to the MRT Tunnel at the Bundaran HI station.

As additional information, for Bundaran HI – Lebak Bulus route, it consists of 6 km underground track and 10 km elevated track. Located in varied depths ranging from 17.5 to 28 meters below ground level, there are 6 MRT underground stations out of total 13 MRT stations along Bundaran HI – Lebak Bulus. In each underground station, there are two floor levels. One is the concourse area as a commercial place where people can buy ticket and shop for things available there (because there will be stores too). The other one, after the concourse, is the platform area for people to wait for the train.

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Because we had the opportunity, the MRT Jakarta Team walked us passing the platform area right to the tunnel. Since the MRT is ready to operate soon in the last week of March 2019, this ‘underground tunnel tour’ will be a very rare opportunity.

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The MRT Jakarta team was very kind to explain the development process and the details of the construction. Very educational!

My first impression when I set my foot there, it felt like between being in a science fiction movie or being in a National Geographic expedition. I don’t know what is the right word to describe it, but it’s so impressive. I saw some other social media influencers that already went here during construction phase and I really adore the circle shape with all the lights and shadows that form a beautiful pattern.

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The plan during this tour was to walk from Bundaran HI station to the nearest intersection where we can see the split of railways. So basically we had to walk around 1 km underground back and forth, almost 30 meters below the ground. The MRT Jakarta Team had warned us that it would be a bit hot and makes us wet in sweat, but it wasn’t that bad actually because there’s still a good airflow down there.

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Talking about the intersection, there are two railway tracks connecting this corridor. First is the downtrack line, called as southbound, which leads from the Bundaran HI to Lebak Bulus. The other one is the uptrack line, called as northbound, which takes passengers from Lebak Bulus to the Bundaran HI.

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Each time we passed this distance sign, the MRT team asked the group if there’s any of us feeling exhausted or not
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Where the track splits for different direction

This Bundaran HI – Lebak Bulus is only the first phase of the MRT Jakarta development. There will be a continuous process of other routes. At least the phase after this will be covering the central to the north trip, from Bundaran HI to Kampung Bandan.

For now with current progress of MRT, people can commute from Lebak Bulus to Bundaran HI just within under 30 minutes! With normally 1 to 1.5 hours during peak hour car drive, it’s a good time saving you make with MRT. One thing for sure, MRT Jakarta offers you a more predicted commuting time rather than uncertainties by being stuck in road traffic. I’ve tried riding the MRT Jakarta once during the limited trial and it’s indeed under 30 minutes.

For each trip, it can carry from 1200 to 1800 people. Imagine these people are driving cars individually everyday to go to work, if they can switch to MRT then it will reduce the traffic jam on the road. And this is just a start of a bigger change.

People have been anticipating for the MRT Jakarta itself. It’s been decades and finally we’re going to have one! It’s so exciting to see how Jakarta is changing to a positive direction. Of course, as users, we have to participate in taking care of the facility. Let’s be civilized community and take part in changing Jakarta for the better.

PS: If you want to try MRT Jakarta before it’s officially operating, you can register yourself for public trial that will start in 12 March 2019. Check the MRT Jakarta website or social media for further information.

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