Most mo­torists un­likely to give up cars

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

The re­cent hike in gaso­line prices in Kuwait has caused many mo­torists, whether na­tion­als or ex­pa­tri­ates, to re­think whether to con­tinue us­ing their pri­vate cars or seek other al­ter­na­tives. The sud­den move by the govern­ment to in­crease petrol prices prompted many drivers to also try to find a bet­ter way to com­pen­sate for the loss in­curred as a re­sult of such a move.

Us­ing taxis can be more ex­pen­sive than aban­don­ing pri­vate cars, while re­sort­ing to pub­lic trans­porta­tion like buses seems like the best op­tions for many. As seen in sev­eral de­vel­oped coun­tries, pub­lic trans­porta­tion has al­ways played a key role in hav­ing lesser traf­fic con­ges­tions as well as lower cases of “road rage”.

And with the prices of fuel go­ing up, many car users shifted their at­ten­tion to pub­lic trans­port means in or­der to save money as a re­sult of the in­creas­ing petrol price, yet they en­coun­tered many dilem­mas such as shabby bus stops, fewer num­ber of buses that use cer­tain routes, the blaz­ing heat while wait­ing for the bus and most im­por­tantly, the ex­pe­ri­ence of us­ing the bus.

In sep­a­rate in­ter­views with KUNA, a num­ber of bus pas­sen­gers, in­clud­ing na­tion­als and ex­pa­tri­ates, af­firmed that they would not hes­i­tate to use pub­lic trans­port to help re­duce traf­fic con­ges­tions and to cut down the use of their cars, es­pe­cially as fuel prices have gone up. How­ever, they said they would do so if ex­tra­or­di­nary ad­di­tions to pub­lic trans­port are made, in­clud­ing an in­crease in buses, shaded and air-con­di­tioned bus stops, rea­son­able fares and prompt ser­vice.

Mo­ham­mad Ad­nan, a Kuwaiti cit­i­zen, told KUNA that he does not mind us­ing pub­lic trans­port if the ser­vices pro­vided by the Kuwait Pub­lic Trans­port Com­pany (KPTC) meet in­ter­na­tional stan­dards in this re­gard. He added that he used to take the bus be­fore he got his driv­ing li­cense and en­joyed the ride, which saved him the trou­ble of deal­ing with the traf­fic jam and lack of park­ing spa­ces. He hoped pub­lic trans­port in Kuwait can one day be­come bet­ter that those in a num­ber of neigh­bor­ing GCC states, as “Kuwait has the re­sources and po­ten­tial to do so”.

Na­bil Naser, another Kuwaiti, said that he would pre­fer us­ing pub­lic trans­port, es­pe­cially since fuel prices have risen, which make us­ing the car trou­ble­some. He said that he gets KD 200 a month in univer­sity al­lowance, which with the petrol price hike, made his liv­ing con­di­tions a little harder. He added that he would ride a bus for sure if it can take him di­rectly to the univer­sity and back to try to save some money for his per­sonal use.

Ali Ah­mad, an ex­pat from Egypt, told KUNA that he owns a car that he used to drive daily to work, but was shocked when petrol prices went up, which made him re­think go­ing back to pub­lic trans­port, which he used a few years back. Ah­mad added that pub­lic trans­port means in Kuwait are sat­is­fac­tory, but still need to be im­proved by in­creas­ing the num­ber of buses, shaded bus stops and more routes. He pointed out that some new des­ti­na­tions in Kuwait can­not be reached by pub­lic buses, a mat­ter which makes the trip to work a “dilemma”. Saad Farhan, another ex­pat from Ye­men, said that he is think­ing of sell­ing his car and us­ing pub­lic trans­port as he can­not af­ford to pay for the new fuel prices, as his salary is lim­ited.

KUNA in­ter­viewed Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor for Trans­port Af­fairs at KPTC Ab­dul­lah Saleh Nasser, who called for com­ing up with leg­is­la­tions and laws that reg­u­late the pub­lic trans­port sec­tor in Kuwait sim­i­lar to those in a num­ber of GCC states and Europe. Nasser said that pub­lic trans­port in Kuwait is in dire need for state sup­port for it to be able to carry out and pro­vide bet­ter ser­vices for pas­sen­gers.

He ex­pressed op­ti­mism that the Pub­lic Au­thor­ity for Roads and Trans­porta­tion would carry out its tasks to re­ju­ve­nate Kuwait’s trans­port net­work from all per­spec­tives such as in­fra­struc­ture, roads and bridges, as well as lands that would even­tu­ally help in the de­vel­op­ment of pub­lic trans­port op­er­a­tions to best serve the coun­try. He pointed out that only min­i­mal sup­port goes to pub­lic trans­port in Kuwait, while in other GCC coun­tries, the govern­ment sub­si­dizes op­er­a­tions by around 70 per­cent of the to­tal cost.

Nasser also called for fa­cil­i­tat­ing a com­pre­hen­sive net­work for pub­lic trans­port in Kuwait, in ad­di­tion to hav­ing the con­cerned author­i­ties in­clud­ing the Min­istry of Pub­lic Works, Kuwait Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the Pub­lic Au­thor­ity for Roads and Trans­porta­tion work to­gether for the best in­ter­est of this vi­tal sec­tor.

Asked whether the re­cent govern­ment de­ci­sion to raise fuel prices had an im­pact on peo­ple us­ing pub­lic trans­port in­stead of their pri­vate cars, Nasser said the de­ci­sion has had little ef­fect on cus­tomers, due to a lack a com­pre­hen­sive pub­lic trans­port net­work that the coun­try re­quires. Also, asked whether the com­pany has plans to mod­ern­ize its fleet to re­duce the us­age of per­sonal cars, Nasser said KPTC has al­ways been con­cerned about its fleet, with the lat­est spec­i­fi­ca­tions and tech­nol­ogy that match the in­fra­struc­ture and en­vi­ron­ment in Kuwait.

The of­fi­cial added that fares of KPTC buses are very af­ford­able com­pared to those in some neigh­bor­ing GCC states, in ad­di­tion to safety, say­ing that there had not been any loss of lives in its fleets since many years. He said the com­pany’s buses had never stopped since it was founded, while in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, bus ser­vices had halted for some time due to a pre­vi­ous oil price cri­sis in the eight­ies.

Nasser added that the com­pany is very keen on mak­ing sure that drivers of its buses ad­here to all safety and traf­fic reg­u­la­tions, adding that vi­o­la­tors will be pun­ished. He con­cluded by say­ing that the com­pany is ea­ger to have its ser­vices com­pete with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries once the in­fra­struc­ture and reg­u­la­tion sup­port pub­lic trans­port.

The Pub­lic Au­thor­ity for Roads and Land trans­porta­tion was es­tab­lished ac­cord­ing to law no. 115 of 2014 and deals with trans­porta­tion via land of com­muters, goods, lug­gage and equip­ment from one place to another on var­i­ous modes of trans­porta­tion. The Kuwait Pub­lic Trans­port Com­pany was es­tab­lished un­der Amiri de­cree no. 60 of 1962. KPTC has earned the in­ter­na­tional quality cer­tifi­cate ISO 9001. — KUNA


KUWAIT: Buses are seen at the main KPTC de­pot in Mirqab.

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