The Transportation Ministry of Indonesia predicts that there will be around 18 million people traveling back to their places of origin ahead of this year's Idul Fitri celebrations (the days that mark the end of the Ramadan fasting month). This prediction is 3.3 percent higher than the flow of people during last year's Idul Fitri (17.4 million). The annual exodus of Indonesian workers and professionals from the cities back to their hometowns - to spend some days with their parents - ahead of Idul Fitri (Lebaran) is called mudik in Indonesian.
Pudji Hartanto, Director General of Land Transport at the Indonesian Transportation Ministry, believes that air passengers will show the highest growth this year amid the mudik tradition. The government estimates that 4.64 million Indonesians will use air transportation to travel back to their places of origin, which would be up 7.62 percent (y/y) from 4.32 million air travelers during last year's mudik.
This year's number of train passengers is expected to reach 4.11 million, up 4.63 percent (y/y) from 3.9 million train passengers during last year's mudik. Meanwhile, the number of people who use bus transportation is expected to decline 2.7 percent (y/y) to 4.57 million because the government detects a trend that mudik travelers prefer air and train transportation over buses.
Passengers using ferry transportation for this year's mudik are expected to rise 3.5 percent (y/y) to 3.75 million, while passengers that use sea transportation are estimated to grow 3.0 percent (y/y) to 910,191 individuals.
Indonesia's Transportation Ministry offers free bus and train transportation for those travelers who have difficulty to finance the trip but also in an effort to smoothen the flow of travelers (the government advises people to use public transportation rather than undertaking private traveling in order to relieve pressure on the transportation infrastructure). Through the website mudikgratis.dephub.go.id people can register for these services (registration is possible between 13 May and 12 June 2016). Offline registration is also possible in specific points in Jakarta, Tangerang, Depok and Bekasi. The government offers 24,000 free seats in buses for mudik travelers. In trains it allows 12,000 motorcycles (one motorcycle per traveler). Total costs of this government program are estimated at IDR 20 billion (approx. USD $1.5 million).
With millions of people traveling around the Idul Fitri days, the roads around the bigger cities and ports of Indonesia (for example the Merak port in West Java, a port used to travel to Sumatra) tend to be clogged resulting in hours-long traffic jams. The number of traffic fatalities also usually rises in this period. A mega city such as Jakarta (with some 10 million inhabitants) turns into a sort of ghost city during the Idul Fitri days.
It is also interesting to point out that the mudik tradition gives rise to an enormous boost in the money circulation across the Archipelago as millions of people travel to the rural areas to spend some days with their families. It is estimated that these people carry trillions of rupiah (hundreds of millions of US dollars) with them to the rural regions (also supported by workers' 13-month salary payout). As consumption increases (on food products, but also on clothes, bags, and shoes) there usually occurs a peak in inflation around the Ramadan and Idul Fitri celebrations.
In 2016 the holy Islamic Ramadan month is to start in early June, followed - one month later - by Idul Fitri.