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TIL that residents in Surabaya, Indonesia can pay for the bus with plastic waste instead of money. Paying with plastic will grant you with 2 hours of travel. The aim is to reduce plastic waste whilst getting more people to use public transport, thus lowering the number of cars on the road. : todayilearned


As somebody who lived in Surabaya previously, I can attest to how this may not be an inviting choice for many people. I commuted to work everyday by GoJek, as I did not have my own vehicle. GoJek is a service where you pay for someone to pick you up and you ride on the back of their small motorbike to your destination… kinda like Uber. My 10-12 km commute took at LEAST 1 hour everyday, one way. With millions of commuters on the road, in addition to the weather (i.e. rain flooding the streets) traffic was insanely congested.

Because of this, most individuals use small little motorbikes that can weave in and out of traffic a lot quicker than opposed to a motorvehicle (buses, vans, cars etc.). So with that being said, this idea is great in theory. Trade your plastic in and get a free bus ride for 2 hours. Recycle your plastic and reduce air pollutants by commuting with other people. I’m all for it. In practice, however, I don’t think it will be a great solution for Surabaya because people will compare their options. If they can get home in 1 hour via a motorbike (for a 10 km route) or get home in 3 hours via a bus for the same route, I think many are going to continue to use the former.

For those who are struggling financially, pregnant, or the elderly, I think they will utilize this new option. As long as they aren’t in a rush to get to their destination. But I feel, solely based on my lived experiences in Surabaya, that many will not and unfortunately the issues will continue to persist.