Posted on September 20, 2013

Bus passengers have welcomed Mowasalat’s plans for services that will connect places outside Doha by bypassing the city’s congested roads. The announcement about the new routes was made by senior company officials at a meeting on Tuesday.

“The introduction of such services will help save time and also allow buses to ply without being caught in Doha’s never-ending traffic congestion,” said Mohamed Ashraf, who travels by bus between the Vegetable Market and Abu Hamour. “It’s a welcome move. Travelling to places outside the city will certainly become a lot easier,” said another resident.

In addition, the decision to induct 63 new buses operated on compressed natural gas (CNG) is being seen as a major initiative to improve travel conditions across the country. The move is expected to reduce pollution. At Tuesday’s meeting, the officials said Mowasalat was exploring the possibility of introducing several services in the coming months that would link different parts of Qatar.

When it was pointed out that the reliance on public transport was still limited in Qatar even eight years after the bus service was introduced, the officials said their studies showed that the number of bus passengers was increasing. Company CEO Ahmed Busherbak al-Mansouri said there was a 6% growth in the number of bus passengers last year compared to the previous year.

However, it is felt that the rate of increase in the number of bus users has not kept pace with the overall population growth of the country. For instance, Qatar’s population was only around 650,000 when the buses were launched in October 2005; now, it is close to 2mn. But the number of bus passengers has not risen to that extent, say sources.

Company officials, though, are hopeful that with the formation of an independent transport ministry under HE Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti, public transport in Qatar will get a major boost in the coming days. Besides being the former chairman of Mowasalat, HE al-Sulaiti is also the vice-president of the International Union of Public Transport (UITP).

The plans to introduce more public transport buses on routes that will bypass Doha are part of the UITP’s ongoing campaign ‘Grow with public transport’, aimed at improving bus transport connectivity across the world, including in countries where the use of public transport is not very high, according to an official.

He expressed hope that people who are not used to travelling by bus will eventually start doing so as traffic congestion increases in the city owing to various infrastructure development projects. However, many feel the public transport still has a long way to go in Qatar and most people use buses only during weekends or on select routes.

With the introduction of more CNG-run buses, Mowasalat hopes to improve travel conditions in the country.

source: Gulf Times