Jeddah badly needs a public transport system that can ferry people to distant places in the city. After all, Saudi Vision 2030 seeks self-reliance and better use of resources. Prices of goods and services are rising, and more people are self-managing their businesses due to large-scale deportations of expatriates who provided cheap labor.
It is getting more expensive to travel by limousine; a one-way journey used to cost up to SR15 ($4), but now customers can expect to pay SR20-25. Teachers and students are the worst affected.
Hiring a taxi or small van can incur monthly costs of up to SR600 per person, which is atrocious. Most drivers demand to be paid at the start of the month, with weekends off. So if there are proctoring duties at the weekend, one needs to hire a regular taxi, which adds to the cost.
Jeddah is very popular among Saudis and expatriates. It has a constant flux of religious tourists, guest workers and Saudi citizens who come here to work. Compared to other cities in the Kingdom, Jeddah is cheaper in terms of housing and consumer items. Considering the large number of people on the go, it is very strange that the authorities have not looked into this most important of issues.
There should be public transport in the city, such as buses and small vans that can carry a number of people at one time on fixed routes, just like elsewhere all over the world. Such transport is cheaper and more convenient, especially for those who need to commute every day. In terms of cultural considerations, there can be an opaque partition separating men from women and children.
With burgeoning costs of living, taxes on remittances and rising residency fees, a smooth public transport system is needed, and should be among the government’s top priorities in future city planning.