When it comes to public transport, Saudi Arabia is pretty deficient. There are buses in the major cities, but they are criticized for being few, unreliable, and not very pleasant. Now, Saudi Gazette reports, the government has signaled its intentions to modernize urban transport through light rail and new bus lines. As yet, there are no public descriptions of routing, equipment, or costs. It is undisputed, though, that major cities are choking on cars.

Simply building urban transport isn’t enough, of course. Whatever is developed must address the needs of potential passengers. The routes need to go where people will actually use them. And use will depend on both the convenience and cost to the rider. Will the new system address the need for women to, say, take a child to school or a doctor’s appointment? Or will the haphazard nature of private schedules go unaddressed? Will the system be designed to bring workers – Saudi or foreign – to and from work, to and from shopping? These are all questions that need to be answered before any ground is broken.

New public transport for Jeddah and Riyadh
Saudi Gazette

RIYADH – A light rail train in Jeddah and a bus service and metro train in Riyadh have been approved by the Ministry of Transport, said Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Awhali, Undersecretary for Transportation Affairs at the Ministry of Transport.

Al-Awhali was quoted in Al-Watan newspaper on Saturday as saying that this approval forms part of the ministry’s overall transport plan for the entire country.

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