Muscat: Mwasalat plans to introduce 118 new buses in 2017, a senior official has announced.
The official was speaking after Mwasalat completed one year of operating in Oman.
“We have come a long way since we started our operation with a new identity on November 22, 2015. Now, people of Oman know that they will get a bus if they wait for 15 minutes, from 6 in the morning to 9.30 at night. And therein lies our success. But a lot of things still need to be done to improve the public transportation system, as we want to link every city in Oman,” Ahmad bin Ali Al Bulushi, chief executive officer of Mwasalat, said in an interview to the Times of Oman.
“We had just eight buses in Muscat prior to November 2015. But now, we have 46 buses connecting every part of Muscat. Besides that, we created more than 200 jobs and hired bus drivers from the Philippines, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, as there was a shortage of Omani bus drivers last year,” he said.
The Omanisation rate now stands at 85 per cent in Mwasalat.
He, however, refused to specify the number of passengers that the company ferried in the last year.
Bulushi also said that the second phase of the company’s strategic plan, where all important cities in Oman will have a bus service, will be launched soon. “This includes Salalah, Sohar and Sur,” Al Bulushi said.
Mwasalat will also unveil plans for the next 25 years. “The master plan will include three main objectives. First, it will determine the basic requirements to provide public bus services in detail, beginning with Muscat, and then in the rest of the cities and regions of the Sultanate, as well as the routes that could be operated outside the Sultanate. Then it will include details of the integrated financial plan for its implementation, as well as determining the future requirements in modernisation of the necessary infrastructure,” he said.
He also said Mwasalat wants to develop public transport in the Sultanate and carry out the strategy that was announced in November last year. “The last route that was implemented was the Muscat-Duqm route on November 25,” Al Bulushi said.
He added that the Madrid-based public engineering services firm Ineco is currently formulating a comprehensive strategy that will chart a roadmap for Mwasalat’s “evolution into an international-class bus operator” from 2016 to 2040.
When asked how the public had responded to the new services, he said, “People’s response to the new bus services in Muscat has been very positive. Passengers are very satisfied with the new features in the bus. The buses are low-floor, air-conditioned, and equipped with cameras and information screens.”
Mwasalat operates 433 buses, including 46 in Muscat, 37 intercity buses, and 350 school and college buses.