Monday, November 29, 2010
It appears that we are about to see the start of a Muscat bus network comparable to that of Dubai. The Oman National Transport Company has been existence for quite some time, and I'm sure many of you have seen the somewhat pointless bus-stops that are dotted around Muscat - it appears that the buses may finally be coming!

ONTC have been given the mandate to get the bus network up and running within 5 years, so expect to see some development on these bus stops soon. ONTC currently operate long-haul routes, but no local bus service here in Muscat. Most of the infrastructure is already there - roads, bus stops (even though more are needed I'm sure). I guess most of the work is to actually establish the routes, train the drivers, price the tickets and purchase the buses. The maintenance facility is existing (to service the long distance coaches) but I suspect that will need upgrading as well.

Rather disturbingly, statistics show that only 15% of the population in Muscat actually own a vehicle. 15%. That is set to grow as the population boom matures and we find more and more drivers on the roads. So really it makes perfect sense to get a bus network in place, and those lovely bus stops can finally be used!

The only fall-out I can think of is that the taxi drivers are not going to be very pleased about this development. The rest of us should be pretty pleased about it - no more high-speed swerve & stop manoeuvres being carried out by taxi's on the highway.... I hope.

Local blogger Andy in Oman recently blogged about the ONTC and their existing timetable and fleet here, a quick but fact-filled read. I also ripped his photograph of the ONTC logo - hope you don't mind!

le fin.


jdwango said...

Oh - I was hoping for a metro... :(

Andrew Brown said...

Of course I don't minnd! :-)

Anonymous said...

About time cause I hate those damn smelly rude taxis. I use the bus in Dubai and it is so convenient. Why would they need 5 years to sort out a public transport system in a country where transport is scare and people cannot afford cars.

Thats What I said...

There used to be ‘local buses’ into various internal areas in Muscat including if I remember cheaper by the 10 bus tickets – but ONTC management were then as incapable as they are now.
Look at for example the Shangri-la – they tried ONTC for a regular staff shuttle – lets say every half hour from the staff accommodation into the hotel and back – much like a public bus service except ONTC knew exactly what money they would get and there is no traffic – ideal situation you would think .
Whoops – couldn’t cut the cake – they are out of service
Look at all the competing long distance bus services who have dominated the routes despite ONTC being a semi-government operation. Al Sumri is a key example of that .

Why 5 years - I guess to train the management first in how to run a bus company

More money down the drain I guess

Blewyn said...

As a regular user of Oman's long-haul services I can report that they're actually quite reliable. Only once in 5 years have I seen a bus driver decide there weren't enough passengers and he'd rather go back to his room, leaving 10 workers stranded in Saih Rawl. Seriously this was a one-off incident in an experience that has been otherwise mia-mia. I even get the odd parcel of biscuits and other desert survival essentials carried by bus from Muscat :-)

However, the buses themselves are a different story. Mostly 70s style coaches with broken seats, excessive noise and vibration, and a small but very loud TV at the front with Hindi singing/fighting movies on permanent loop. If you're not sitting under an AC drip, next to someone who hasn't showered in a week, with a non-functioning seatbelt (or worse, one fastened with a rucksack clip - I kid you not) then you're doing OK.

Mimi said...

We want female bus drivers. The stories in buses in some movies freak me out :[

Anonymous said...

Please, instead of buses (of course on LNG!) an efficient light-rail / tram network with its own infra, not hindered or making use of congested roads. Rail from the airport terminal into town. Fast and efficient, every 10 - 15 minutes. The capacity can easily be increased by hooking on one more wagon (as long as the stations are long enough).

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