Public transport set for major expansion

Mwasalat floats tender for 350 buses, AC shelters as more than 1.1 million commuters use services.

10 April 2016
STRATEGY: Mwasalat floats tender for 350 buses, AC shelters as more than 1.1 million commuters use services

Muscat - Oman National Transport Company (Mwasalat) has floated a tender inviting pre-qualification and Expression of Interest (EoI) for supply of around 350 buses of various types, including express coaches, low-floor and double-deck buses. The company said that it is inviting bids from various local bus and coach dealers, as well as global manufacturers. The interested parties have been urged to send the soft copy of their EoI before April 25, while the hard copy must be deposited at the administrative building of Mwasalat within two days after that.

The comp-any has also floated tender for installation, design and supply of AC bus shelters at Ruwi bus station. The shelters shall also be equipped with CCTV cameras, passenger seats and advertisement boards, apart from other latest technology and features. The last date for submission of tender is April 17. A ground staff of Mwasalat told the Observer that the response for the bus services has been great, especially during weekends. "It is good to see women travellers, mostly expatriates and also a few Omani families, making use of the service. This was not the case before Mwasalat was launched."

Mwasalat has unveiled an expansion strategy as part of the government plans to improve the public transport system in the country. While initial plans are Muscat-centric, the company seeks to gradually expand its route network as per the population density and requirements. The company has also launched a recruitment campaign for various posts. The company recently revealed that it has ferried over 1.1 million passengers since its rebranding in November 2015 till March this year. Buses services have been well-received especially by the women travellers who feel it is convenient and safe, compared to other modes of transport. "My only concern is with the frequency of services. In the middle stops, people may prefer to travel in easily available options such as taxis or vans rather wait for 15 to 20 minutes for a bus. I hope more routes and more buses will help improve frequencies."

For a city like Muscat, AC bus stops are a necessity because summer heat can be unbearable. "At least, some important bus stops should have AC shelters in the first stage, if not all," said Mohammed who has been commuting by Mwasalat on a regular basis to Al Hail from Ruwi. Mwasalat and the Ministry of Transport and Communications have also been working on plans to have dedicated public transport buses. It may be noted that the Spanish consultancy firm Ineco has been working with Mwasalat to develop a Public Transport Master Plan (PTMP), which includes developing efficient bus networks and stations, inter-city bus services and public transport networks in Sohar and Salalah. Ineco had earlier told the Observer that, the main areas that require urgent attention are the provision of reliable and efficient bus services as a real alternative to private cars and the organisation of the taxi and microbus sector to provide safe and transparent services to the community.

© Oman Daily Observer 2016

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