Browsing 'transportation' News

People mover rendering

Habtoor Leighton

People mover rendering

A new tram system that will help make Education City a car-free campus will come into operation by the end of this year or early next year, officials have reportedly said.

The update was given at the Smart Parking Conference this week by QF Capital Projects engineer Ahmed al-Khanji, according to the Gulf Times.

The remarks are consistent with a presentation last year by project engineer Siemens, which said that the north campus would be completed in June 2016, and the south campus in December 2016.

That’s a ways behind the initial 2015 proposed launch date, and the newer fall deadline.

The trams as before leaving Germany

Siemens

The trams as before leaving Germany

Qatar Foundation received the first batch of trams from Germany last summer, and onsite testing of the people mover system was expected to begin this year.

A total of 19 trains are being manufactured by Siemens, which has tested the trams to make sure they can withstand the extreme heat and high humidity of a Qatar summer.

The new 24-station tram system is envisioned to transport an average of 3,300 people in each direction an hour, with 16 of the 19 trains operating at four-minute intervals during peak time.

It’s been estimated to cost around US$412 million.

Four carparks

Al-Khanji said the transportation system will connect to four parking garages inside of Education City.

This will make it easy for people to go from campus to Sidra Medical and Research Center, the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) and staff housing, Gulf Times reports him as saying.

The newspaper added:

“Al Shaqab and QNCC car parks can accommodate around 3,000 cars each. The (Qatar) Academy car park, which has a tunnel connected to the schools, can also house 3,000 cars. It will serve as a VIP car park during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Oxygen (Park) underground car park can take 1,500 cars.”

Al-Khanji also said that bikes and buses will help facilitate transportation around EC.

Thoughts?

Mowasalat bus

Khalid Albaih/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a bid to entice more people in Qatar to use public transportation, Mowasalat has been rapidly expanding its bus system over the past few months.

Last May, the state transportation company pledged to double its fleet from 120 to 250 vehicles by the end of the year, and increase the frequency of some of the most popular routes.

With the cost of living rising in Qatar and traffic congestion at an all-time high, taking the bus could help save you some money and stress. But you’ll need a lot of patience, too.

Here are some things to know about using public transport in Qatar:

It’s really cheap

If you have a smart card, fares around the Doha area will cost you QR3 to QR7 a trip, far cheaper than taking a taxi.

Mowasalat smart card

Mowasalat

Mowasalat smart card

Smart cards can be bought at Mowasalat’s main bus station in Old Ghanim, as well as several small grocery stores. They can also be topped up at Ooredoo’s self-service machines. They cost QR30, QR20 of which can be applied to one’s fares.

If you don’t have a card and want to get on the bus, you usually need to pay a flat QR10 fee. See Mowasalat’s FAQS on the subject here.

It takes a lot longer than traveling by taxi

Affordability comes at a price. According to Andy Boggs, a former expat who used Qatar’s bus system for two years:

“You can get to your destination but it often involves transfers and waits at bus stops, both of which add a significant amount of time to your travels. Also, some of the routes require gassing up adding even more time as the bus waits its turn in the gas line to fill its very large tank.”

Mowasalat Old Ghanim bus station

Chantelle D'mello

Mowasalat Old Ghanim bus station

So if you’re planning to ride the bus to get to work or an appointment, you may want to “test” out your route to figure out how much time you’re going to need to allot for the trip.

Mistakes are inevitable

Here’s the current route map, according to Mowasalat’s website:

If that looks confusing to you, you’re not the only one.

According to Adarsh Vijayaraghavan, who used the bus system to go from Al Khor to Doha for a year, the buses themselves are quite comfortable, but navigating the system is all about trial and error:

“The buses are irregular. Information about buses are difficult to find. When I tried, the helpline numbers did not work. The buses were not as frequent as to meet the demand, and many a times buses were over-crowded.”

And Boggs recalled one experience in which he stood for 20 minutes at one stop and when the bus came, was told by the driver he should actually be at a stop a few blocks away.

“Another time at Lulu’s on D ring I boarded a bus thinking I was bound for the Central Bus Station, but as it turns out this particular bus makes an all day circular route of this area – teaching me that not all buses are going to the Central Bus Station as I had thought,” he said.

Not all bus stops are created equal

Mowasalat has been promising for years to make bus stops more comfortable for commuters who are standing in Qatar’s often searing sun.

But a lack of shaded stations continues to be an issue for many, particularly during the summer.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Shenghung Lin/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

According to Boggs, that’s not the only issue.

“Some (stops) provide seating, maps, schedules and signs that show the time of the next arrival and other useful information. But other stops have nothing more than a small sign on a lamp pole and involve long waits in the heat, leaving you with a feeling of uncertainty about whether you are in the right place.”

As always, scoping out your options ahead of the time you actually are going to be relying on the bus to get you somewhere is the best way to avoid frustration – and sunburn.

There’s a dedicated bus route in the Industrial Area

Late last year, Mowasalat rolled out a complimentary hop-on, hop-off bus service that caters to the blue-collar population in the Industrial area.

The service operates from 4am to midnight and makes mandatory stops at the central bus station, malls in the Industrial area and at big mosques during Friday prayers.

Mowasalat Industrial Area Shuttle Bus

Mowasalat

Mowasalat Industrial Area Shuttle Bus

Commuters and residents with vehicles can park their cars at two designated hubs – one at the intersection of Salwa Road and Industrial Area (Street 1), and another at the intersection of the Abu Hamour Road and Industrial Area (Street 52) – before boarding a shuttle.

More information about the service can be found here.

You can explore outside of Doha

Last month, the company introduced new routes from the main bus station in Al Ghanim to Al Ruwais/Al Shamal, Al Thakhira, Dukhan, Mesaieed Industrial City, Abu Samra, Umm Garn Village, Al Kheesa and Al Khor.

It also added routes from Hamad International Airport to West Bay via the Corniche/City Center mall, and from Asian Town to Al Shahaniya.

The buses that travel to these places have added amenities to make the longer journeys more comfortable, including better seating and separate luggage facilities, Mowasalat said in a statement.

Do you rely on the bus system in Qatar? What advice do you have to offer to newbies? Thoughts?

Mowasalat Industrial Area shuttle bus

Mowasalat

Mowasalat Industrial Area shuttle bus

A new complimentary hop-on, hop-off bus service that caters to the blue-collar population will launch in the Industrial area tomorrow, state transportation operator Mowasalat has said.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Mowasalat CEO Khalid Nasser Al-Hail said that the shuttles were part of the company’s plan to enhance and promote a culture of mass transportation in Qatar.

Mowasalat Industrial Area Shuttle Bus

Mowasalat

Mowasalat Industrial Area Shuttle Bus

He added that he hoped that the service, which will operate from 4am to midnight, would benefit workers from lower-income brackets.

Though no route map is currently available, shuttles will have brochures explaining the buses’ circuit. There are no specified stops along the routes, as passengers are free to hop on or off at their will.

However, Mowasalat has also said that buses will make mandatory stops at the central bus station, malls in the Industrial area and at big mosques during Friday prayers.

Encouraging public transportation

The move comes over a year after the company rolled out hop-on hop-off buses in West Bay to help ease traffic congestion.

West Bay bus

Ankita Menon

West Bay bus

Though hailed at the time, those shuttles, which operate from 6am to 11:45pm, don’t appear to be heavily used by people working and living in that area.

However, this new service is expected to be better-received, as many living and working in the Industrial Area already use public transportation.

According to officials, the hop-on hop-off service took three months to plan, and followed several studies carried out by Mowasalat to identify ways to minimize waiting times at existing bus stops, and to provide faster transportation within the area.

Ultimately, the company hopes to phase out bus routes that take commuters between Doha and the streets of the Industrial Area.

Instead, those heading to or leaving the Industrial Area would avail of the shuttles and could catch the regular buses on the outskirts of the area, a Mowasalat spokesperson told Doha News.

Mowasalat has allocated a fleet of some 30 full-size buses to serve as shuttles at various routes in the Industrial Area, though only 13 would be operational at any given time.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Alexander Cheek

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

“If a bus breaks down or gets stuck, we will send another bus immediately,” the spokesperson said.

Commuters and residents with vehicles can park their cars at two designated hubs – one at the intersection of Salwa Road and Industrial Area (Street 1), and another at the intersection of the Abu Hamour Road and Industrial Area (Street 52) – before boarding a shuttle.

Two concurrent bus systems will be in play once the service launches tomorrow.

Buses that are both numbered and colored will follow five main routes within the Industrial Area. Buses that only have colored placards will take passengers to their destinations within these areas.

Buses with green placards and the number 88 will go between streets 1 and 52, while buses with pink, orange, blue or red placards will travel routes 16, 18, 61, and 81.

Thoughts?