Most motorists unlikely to give up cars
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.