Mwasalat says better regulation of urban transport sector vital

Mwasalat — the Sultanate’s national transport company — says its plan to introduce city routes in both Suhar and Salalah as part of an ambitious rollout of its urban transportation services to major cities beyond the capital area.
Ahmed al Balushi (pictured), CEO, said the state-owned operator is also weighing new technologies and initiatives designed to enhance the transportation experience for its growing customer base.

“A number of ambitious plans are underway for the company such as the expansion of the city and intercity bus fleet in order to implement new urban bus routes in Muscat, to establish new urban bus routes in other strategic cities of the Sultanate and to reinforce or extend the intercity routes with new services to other destinations or greater frequencies for existing routes. We are also planning to launch city routes in both Sohar and Salalah,” Al Balushi told IRU, the world’s road transport association.
His comments come ahead of the World IRU Congress due to be held in Muscat during 6 – 8 November 2018. The Ministry of Transport and Communications, represented by Asyad Group, is collaborating with the IRU in the hosting of the landmark forum in the Sultanate.
In an interview published by IRU on its website, Al Balushi said the company was looking to benefit from the presence of world leading experts at the upcoming event. “Mwasalat is working together with IRU to bring specialists in passenger transport to the sidelines of the World Congress, to look at the big issues facing the sector – new technology and disruption and access to markets,” he said.
Since it was rebranded in 2015, Mwasalat has grown its operations to include 14 city routes and 17 intercity routes, according to the CEO. Over 2.5 million passengers have travelled on this network during the first half of this year, he said.
“With an average of 14,000 passengers per day (15 per cent growth from 2017). Buses are also equipped with IVMS and we are currently preparing to launch Intelligent Transport System (ITS). There is free WiFi for passengers, air-conditioning at bus stops and routes are available to view on Google Maps,” Al Balushi said.
The modernisation of the company has not been limited only to urban transport in Muscat, Mwasalat intercity and international services were also improved as part of this renovation process with a brand-new fleet with the highest levels of quality and safety, he further noted.
“We have implemented smart ticketing, passenger information systems, automated vehicle management systems, etc. All these initiatives will help to improve transport systems and mobility, reduce traffic associated problem, enhance the economy and, finally, help to continue the economic and social development of the Sultanate of Oman,” said Al Balushi.
“We are also in the process of implementing the following as part of Intelligent Transport Systems umbrella: a planning and scheduling system; an automated vehicle management system (AVM); and an automated fare collection System (AFC).”
In the interview, the official also stressed the need for better regulation of the urban transportation sector in the Sultanate. “Mwasalat needs this regulation: firstly, to regulate the taxi sector so they become a professional and complementary activity to bus services; and secondly, to regulate the passenger land transport market, so the coexistence of public (Mwasalat) and private bus companies is achieved in parallel. Fortunately, the work was kick started by the Land Transport Law that was issued by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which is the first step to regulate the sector,” he added.