With reporting and photos by Ankita Menon
The Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP) is kicking off a new shuttle service in the Dafna / West Bay area of Doha today in an attempt to both ease congestion around the crowded skyscraper district and boost tourism.
With continued construction, new buildings and higher occupancy rates in the towers in Dafna and surrounding neighborhoods, the area has become choked with traffic during work hours in recent months.
The new service – called “West Bay Bus” and launched in conjunction with the Ministry of Transportation – will shuttle passengers around free of charge between 6am-midnight daily. MMUP’s Central Planning Office adds that on Fridays, the service is for families only.
State-owned transport company Mowasalat will operate 14 buses for the service, which are scheduled to hit stops every 15 minutes. Eleven of the shuttles are 33-seaters, while three are 20-seater vehicles.
The buses are equipped with seat-back televisions which will screen a Qatar Tourism Authority video publicizing tourist sites around the country, the MMUP has told us.
There are 36 bus stops around the West Bay area along two routes. A statement from MMUP explains:
The first route will link West Bay with City Centre, the Corniche and the General Post Office whilst the second route will link West Bay with City Centre, Al Bidda Street and Khalifa Stadium.
On both routes, the bus will stop at all major hotels, offices and residential towers in West Bay. Customers visiting or staying at any of the hotels serviced by the West Bay Bus will certainly enjoy this new 5 stars service.
Answering questions about how much the service will help ease traffic, a spokesperson said the service is on a trial basis to assess how beneficial it is.
Here’s the route map:
Click the map to enlarge it, or view a PDF version.
Will you give it a try? Thoughts?
Note: Edited to reflect the fact that although the buses differ in size and design, all are open to all users free of charge.