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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Qatar’s West Bay bus service will no longer be for free

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West Bay bus
West Bay bus

Passengers will soon have to pay to ride Qatar’s shuttle bus through Dafna/West Bay, after the service’s contract was renewed for another year by the government.

Starting April 1, riders will be charged an unspecified “fair price” for the commuter and tourist service, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication said in a statement.

The two-year-old shuttle rides are rarely used by people in the area, despite a parking crunch, due to time constraints, many have said.

To tackle this issue, the two routes that currently wind through the office towers in Qatar’s central business district will be consolidated into one.

Buses will run more frequently, picking up passengers every 12 minutes, down from every 20 minutes, for a total of 76 daily trips. The service starts at 6am and ends at 9pm, three hours earlier than when it first launched in 2014.

“As per this converged single route, we hope to serve the passengers better by more accessibility and frequency and also reduce their travel time,” the ministry quoted its director of technical affairs as saying.

New West Bay Bus route
New West Bay Bus route

(Click here to see a PDF map of the New West Bay bus route.)

The new route starts at Khalifa Tennis and Squash complex and swings through the Qatar Post Office before zigzagging through the streets between the Corniche and Majlis Al Taawon St.

The route also services the new Doha Exhibition and Conference Center, City Center Mall, the Four Seasons, Hilton and Intercontinental the City.

Parking woes

The number of office workers in Dafna vastly outstrips the amount of available parking in the area, resulting in many commuters illegally leaving their vehicles on sidewalks and other prohibited areas each day.

Additionally, the volume of vehicles entering and exiting the area during rush hour frequently causes traffic jams.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a bid to ease congestion, the government began operating the West Bay Shuttle Bus slightly more than two years ago with two overlapping routes running every 15 minutes.

Both started and ended at the southwest edge of Dafna, where free parking is more plentiful.

However, the service was slow to catch on among residents, with few passengers using the free service a month into its operations.

Last month, the Gulf Times reported that many of the buses were still running nearly empty.

The newspaper spoke to several would-be passengers who said they would rather pay for parking or a taxi than spend the extra 15 to 20 minutes required to take the bus.

Others, however, have complimented the shuttle:

Have you used the West Bay Shuttle Bus? What was your experience? Thoughts?

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