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Friday, June 25, 2021

One month on, West Bay bus service carrying few passengers

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west-bay-bus-2

With reporting from Ankita Menon

A new shuttle service designed to ease parking woes and traffic congestion in the West Bay/Dafna area appears to be struggling to attract passengers, one month after launch.

During a bus ride this week taken by Doha News, one of the drivers of the 14 “West Bay buses” confirmed that usage of the service has been low. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said:

“Most of the time the bus is empty. But in the morning, we do have passengers going to the office. And in the afternoon, once they finish their work, they might ride in the bus.”

The driver also showed Doha News a sheet on which he recorded the number of passengers he carries daily. On the morning of our ride, he’d carried two so far, and there were no other people onboard during our trip.

The bus project is a joint effort by the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP) and Ministry of Transportation, and is functioning on a trial basis. It involves shuttling passengers around free of charge from 6am to midnight daily, with Fridays being for families only.

When asked why residents were not using the service, an official at state-owned transportation company Mowasalat, which operates the buses, told Doha News that daily logs suggest the numbers are increasing, albeit at a slow rate.

The official, who asked to remain unnamed, added that some 300 passengers currently use the service each day. The total capacity of the buses (11 of which are 33-seaters and three of which are 20-seaters) at any given time is 463 passengers.

Officials at the MMUP were unavailable for comment.

Two routes

map

West Bay buses frequent some 36 stops along two routes every 15 minutes, including at City Center Mall, the General Post Office and Khalifa Stadium (see enlarged map in PDF here).

When asked what they thought of the new service, residents on Twitter reported mixed feelings. At particular issue appeared to be figuring out the route map:

Earlier this week, residents offered the Gulf Times feedback on ways to improve the service. This included adding bus stops outside of West Bay, so that residents living in other parts of Doha, such as from Mansoura, Najma or the Old Airport area, could commute to the area, reducing congestion in the morning and afternoons.

The newspaper added:

Some daily commuters also said the authorities should consider introducing incentives for them. “This would go a long way in attracting people to the West Bay circular service in the coming days,” one of them pointed out.

Have you taken a ride on the bus? Thoughts?

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