Randa Habib’s Corner

Nowadays you can judge a country by its public transport system.

In the case of Jordan, no one will argue that we are still lagging behind many others and that this sector has to be drastically improved, immediately.

Many people have to battle every day to catch buses to go to work. They are desperate enough to jump in the middle of the street and risk being hit by cars just to catch a bus because missing it would force them to wait for a long time for another one, and could cost them their jobs.

The elderly suffer most as they wait for hours for public transportation under heavy rain or burning temperatures, in the absence of reliable schedules.

Jordan has one of the lowest public transit capacities: three buses for every 10,000 people, compared to 16-20 in Europe and 30 in Asia.

As for the quality of the service, most of the current buses are worn out, unhygienic and maybe unsafe.

But it seems that there are some moves going on in the field. The Greater Amman Municipality has gathered data and conducted studies on people’s mobility needs in a bid to understand certain patterns and trends.

A GAM “Bus Rapid Transit” (BRT) plan of 100 new buses is ready for implementation, and the first batch is expected to be operational next month.

So things seem to be fine, right? Wrong. The Ministry of Transport wants to bring back all the transport projects in Amman under the umbrella of the Public Transport Authority, although a temporary law assigned the plan to GAM in 2007.

There are arguments and different viewpoints about the issue, and this could be healthy in normal circumstances. But in a matter that is long overdue, such a process is causing paralysis while too many people continue to suffer.