Time to switch to public transit
Like any other city across the Kingdom, the concept of a world-class public transportation system is alien to Riyadh. However, due to the growing population and the huge expansion of the city from all sides, the need for a public mass transit system is being greatly felt.
Most of the streets in Riyadh witness massive traffic jams round-the-clock. It would not be an exaggeration to say that rush hours in Riyadh continue 24/7. The authorities are finally realizing the importance of a mass transit system across the Kingdom but the situation in Riyadh is very worrisome, as it can’t handle more than five million people and millions of cars roaming the streets.
Saudis are wont of owning cars and prefer to use their own vehicles to go to work and malls etc. Many people say that Saudis have adopted this habit from the Americans. However, this habit — good or bad — has become strongly associated with the Saudis nowadays.
The trend in the West has reversed due to expensive fuel prices and high insurance rates. People in most of the developed countries are turning to the use of public transport system. Keeping in view the burden on their civic infrastructures and public comfort, many countries had started developing public transport systems. In the United States, most of the major cities have a comprehensive mass transit system. Apart from the major cities, however, one has to rely on his vehicle to move around or rely on cabs and end up paying skyrocketing fares.
We, in Saudi Arabia, are also facing a similar situation. Actually, we have never thought about a public transport system due to obvious reasons: Fuel prices are very low and there is no import tax on cars, there is no parking fee in the cities.
Due to the above reasons, owning and maintaining a car is easier in the Kingdom. That is why the idea of public transportation never appealed the Saudis. On the contrary, keeping a car is very expensive in other parts of the world — fuel prices are high, one has to pay toll taxes and parking fee.
The transport authorities in the Kingdom should try to educate people about the importance of public transportation system especially in major cities like Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.
Keeping in view the growing population, it is imperative to plan mass transit systems across the Kingdom. This will not only help ease traffic congestions on streets but will also help improve the environment and check air pollution.
Riyadh can also use public transportation system, such as the metro, as a tourist attraction. The presence of metro system is a sign of development. It is true that nowadays Riyadh appears like a huge workshop as various uplift projects including, the multi-billion dollar Metro project, are under way. It is important to create awareness among the masses on the use o public transport. The authorities should launch a campaign in this regard at the earliest.
Riyadh should also have another mode of public transport i.e. public buses to help ease the stress of driving on the capital’s streets.
And at a time when the construction of this mega transportation project is in full swing, the traffic department should start serious measures to implement and change many traffic rules and regulations and must train their traffic personal to cope with the increasing number of cars on the roads. Driving and movement in Riyadh is becoming slower, more hectic and with it comes lack of patience. And it is important for the residents of Riyadh to start to learn how to use the public transportation. It is more fun and cheaper. Cheap energy and automobile driving in the Kingdom will not be here forever, so, we need to adapt to public transportation.
Email: [email protected]
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view