Poor public transport hits low income group

Updated 15 July 2013

Poor public transport hits low income group

The local public transport sector is still lagging behind despite the vigorous growth being witnessed in the Saudi economy and the positives effects it has had on education and infrastructure. The Kingdom has seen an increase in the demand for cars, thereby increasing market shares for the car industry due to a decline in public transport methods.
Public transport systems are the engines of a nation’s growth and a necessity for improving the quality of life for citizens. Yet the low quality of public transport in the Kingdom remains a source of dissatisfaction for low and middle class citizens.
Taxi drivers stand to benefit from the poor transport system and tend to raise fares during peak times of the year, like Ramadan, Haj and other Eid holiday celebrations.
Hassan Sahi, a well-known businessman in Riyadh, said: “Matters become more complicated when taxi drivers raise fares during peak times. It defeats the whole spirit of the holy month, where one is supposed to relate to the less fortunate and privileged rather than make life more difficult for them.”
He added: “People always tend to maximize their profits by raising the prices of goods and services when there is high demand. We hope the Saudi government will develop a more attractive and convenient public transport system.”
Muhammad Naeem Rehman, who commutes regularly by bus in Riyadh, said: “The local transport system requires the government’s immediate attention, especially during the month of Ramadan. There are no rules and regulation governing the local transport system. I waste two to three hours daily to reach my destination in scorching weather with no air conditioning. Sometimes, I don’t find a place to sit in the bus, as drivers overload the dilapidated buses, risking people’s lives.”
Muhammad Faraz Ikram, who works as a quality controller in a Riyadh-based construction company, said: “The lack of local transport facilities in the Kingdom is driving people to use their own cars instead of buses, which creates congestion on the roads and streets during rush hour.”
Ikram said: “The adoption of a good quality public transport system is a pressing necessity since it can ease road congestion considerably.”
Syed Khalid Abbas, another public transport commuter, said: “Some of the Saudi Public Transport Company (SAPTCO) buses run on schedule in Riyadh. However, they are unable to absorb the large number of public commuters. It is extremely difficult to handle overcrowding on the roads without decent public transport.”
The Saudi government has already taken significant steps toward developing sustainable railway projects in the Kingdom. The government is also working on enhancing local transportation in major cities and promoting green growth.


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