By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto – Oct 05,2017

AMMAN — Amman Mayor Yousef Shawarbeh on Wednesday announced that the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) is planning to float a tender for the development of the public transportation system in the city, aiming to introduce 100 new buses by next year.

The announcement came during a discussion with the Taqaddum (progress) platform, part of a monthly discussion series moderated by journalist Diala Dabas.

Shawarbeh explained that the buses will be owned by the GAM, and operated by a private company in order to ensure the highest standards.

The decision comes in contrast with the current model, in which buses are both owned and operated by private companies and regulated by the public sector.

In this regard, the mayor stated that the new buses will have to commit to specific routes and frequencies, and several payment systems such as prepaid cards and mobile pay will be implemented.

Hazem Zureiqat, founder of Taqqadam and the public transportation advocacy group MaanNasel, told The Jordan Times that “there are three essential elements that must be present to have high quality public transport service: a government subsidy, strict service standards reflected in the contract between the government and the operator, and a strong enforcement to ensure these standards are met”.

“By buying the buses, GAM is essentially addressing the first element,” he continued, concluding that “we still need the two remaining elements to be in place, and that is yet to be seen”.

Lubna Makhamreh, a student at the University of Jordan who experiences the daily transportation hustle, said that “this decision will only improve the public transportation system if these buses come with an actual schedule,” complaining that “many times, we [the students] have to miss our classes because of the lack of organisation in transportation”.