Branded taxis to hit roads soon, New bus route from March

By Vinod Nair — MUSCAT: Feb. 13 – Authorities and experts on Monday underlined that public transport in Oman will only grow in the coming years as Mwasalat, the host for UITP MENA Seminar and Assembly 2017, unveiled the brand identity of its taxi services. With the taxi the next step is to contacting the owners, said Ahmed Ali al Balushi, CEO, Mwasalat. “We need to filter the drivers, conduct medical fitness tests and give them training. Technology for applications will be ready by the third or the fourth quarter.”   He said the cars need to be minimum five years old and can hit the roads as agreement with the car owners are signed.
926878He said that the company will start with 400 taxis, of them 120 are currently being operated at the airport, and those wishing to join Mwaslat Taxi will be invited to join the company, explaining that there is a trend over the next year to offer taxis for women and driven by woman.
The company will expand the city bus services with the launch a new route (No. 7) between Mabela and Mabela south, linking it with Route 1, enabling passengers to go all the way to Ruwi and beyond.
Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Al Balushi said, the tender for 118 buses is in the final stages and will be awarded by the month-end or early next month. “The new buses will join the fleet gradually from the fourth quarter to be put on use immediately. Eight new routes will be introduced with the arrival of these buses and the frequency on the existing routes will be improved.”
Al Balushi said this year we expect to carry five million passengers with the current fleet, and added that it is difficult to predict the growth because we need to build the demand.
“We started with 5,000 passengers but today we carry around 12,000 passengers a day.”
The company is planning to invest around $300 million over the next couple of years and reiterated the plans to expand the fleet by adding 350 new buses in the near future. Dario Hidalgo, Director of Integrated Transport, EMBARQ, World Resource Institute, spoke in depth about the efforts needed to make public transportation the preferred mobility choice.
He emphasised that cities should shift from building roads for cars to building roads for moving people.
An MoU was signed between between Oman National Transport Company (ONTC) and AEG Ogden (Oman branch) to provide transportation services including taxis and public buses for visitors and staff of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Center (OCEC).
Another MoU was inked between ONTC and Oman National Football Association to provide transport to all athletes, coaches and staff of the Oman National Football Association.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications in its annual meeting on Sunday said that the company will seek to enhance the role of public transport in Muscat through advertising on buses.
There will be efforts to dedicated lanes for buses to reduce travelling times and increase the quality of service.
Experts felt to encourage the use of public transport, use of cars had to be made expensive.
It was also said that AC bus stops will be installed at select stations by this summer and pointed out that contrary to expectations, the demand for bus services did not come during summer.