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As commuter frustration builds, study suggests subsidising transport sector

By Ana Ibáñez Prieto - Aug 02,2017 - Last updated at Aug 02,2017

Despite the attention brought by authorities to the issue of public transportation over the past few months, citizens continue to complain about services (Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

AMMAN — Despite the attention brought by authorities to the issue of public transportation over the past few months, citizens continue to complain about services, while non-profit institutions insist on subsidising the sector to fix many of the current issues.

The fact that bus drivers take more passengers than they are allowed to presents a major problem, explained Lubna Makhamreh, a student at the University of Jordan who experiences the daily transportation hustle. 

“The bus drivers treat us like animals. We are shoved into the bus so they can take as many people as possible,” she told the Jordan Times in a recent interview.

Yazan Jamel, a student at the Hashemite University, reported suffering from the same issue. “I have to walk a long distance until I can find a bus, and, when I finally do, I don’t even have a seat for myself and I have to ride the bus standing up,” the student complained.

Jamel believes the problem could be fixed if there were more buses available, but “that solution is not possible when there is already an ongoing competition between buses on the same route, where the drivers would do anything for the other bus not to make it to the pick-up point — just so they can take more passengers themselves.”

This situation leads to more serious issues such as harassment, according to Makhamreh: “When a single bus is taking more than 50 passengers, it is very easy for a man to find the opportunity to touch a girl against her will while making it look as if it had happened by accident, and the drivers don’t care about this.”

His Majesty King Abdullah addressed the situation of public transportation during a meeting with sector officials in June, where he stressed that “it cannot be accepted that people suffer to reach their workplaces or homes because of the absence of a public transport system which respects their humanity and meets their needs”.

Hazem Zureiqat, founder of the public transport advocacy campaign Maan Nasel, stated that the problems referenced by the students are largely due to the lack of financial subsidies from the government.

He said that “the current mode of operation in public transport creates an environment where the only incentive for operators is to fill up their buses to maximise profits”.

Zureiqat also pointed out that “the lack of a larger umbrella that represents operators poses a significant challenge in improving public transport services”, making it difficult to implement new measures due to the “vast number” of stakeholders involved.

Mohammad Al Asad, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE) agreed, noting however, the need to consider the findings of a study published by the CSBE back in February. 

In a recent interview with Jordan Times, Asad explained that the study, conducted in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), suggested that the subsidies should be combined with a service provided by companies — following the water and electricity models currently applied in Jordan.

Richard Probst, deputy resident director of FES, has announced that the foundation will be hosting an international meeting in October in order to bring different public transportation initiatives together, where the CSBE is expected to present its latest work.

The event, titled “Regional Exchange Project: Public Transport in MENA. Amman, Beirut and Cairo” will focus on the challenges posed by congested local transport systems at the environmental, economic and social levels, touching upon issues such as pollution, climate change, urban growth and accessibility of work opportunities, education and health services.

 

As part of efforts to improve public transport in the capital, the Greater Amman Municipality has embarked on the multimillion-dinar Bus Rapid Transit project. Once completed the network will see   a fleet of high-capacity buses carrying more than 120 passengers each  and will run every three minutes during peak hours on segregated lanes along Amman’s busiest roads.

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Comments

The transportation system in Jordan has not changed in the last thirty years. Thirty years ago, a advanced nation, would had the vision to set incremental goals for improving and expanding its transportation system in anticipation of a growing population. No one had this vision thirty, twenty or ten years ago and now we have an exasperated transportation system. What ever became of the Rapid Bus System? Lack of funds is not the cause of this problem.

This article supports the fact that the citizen essential needs in politics taboo sates like Jordan are deliberately ignored by the Government to keep him engaged with simple things like prices , transport , education fees and so on . If this is not the case how come a small country like Jordan with a population just above six millions is unable to provide a decent life for its citizens leaving them with great stress , wasted time and uncomfortable situations . Doesn't the Government and the so- called Parliament feel shameful when a University Student like Lubna Makhamreh telling bus drivers are treating her like an animal . I just want to remind Lubna if she has never been abroad to go and see how animals are treated in civilized nations .

I cannot understand why Jordan has not developed a metro/train system yet... Almost every major populated city has them. It would greatly reduce traffic, stimulate the economy, and bring interests of investors.

Jordan Times I can understand being a foreign language newspaper you don't want to show the bad image of Jordan Public Transport and this is wrong, you should face the truth otherwise Jordan will not develop . I wish if you had posted along with this study an image showing how Jordanians of both sexes and different ages are trying hard to get first on a bust just came into the station by grabbing each other from behind and the big smile on the face of the one who just managed to get a seat . I think Jordanians and Arabs deserve all this agonies and hardships in life because they aren't fighting for their rights .

It seems this news item is written by a journalist English being his or her second language and could be of an Italian or Spanish origin .
Anyway despite the growing demand for transport services, Jordan Public Transport Sector is one of the worst in the Middle East and اhas been facing numerous chronic challenges which include : 01 - Poor services 02- over crowding 03- Poor Road Safety 04- Lack of funds for development and maintenance 05-Poor Capacity . During weekends and holidays at bus stations you see poor Jordanians in uncivilized manners running fighting pushing scrambling and struggling to get a seat going home . I think the government has no intention to solve this serious chronic unpleasant problem for unknown reasons . The Amman Express Shuttle Bus was mentioned as one of the problem solutions , could JT tell us the latest news about this legend bus .

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