Commuters adjust timing as per new bus service schedule


Saudi Gazette

Jeddah — Commuters, a majority of them expatriates, welcomed new public transport buses in Jeddah.

It was a different experience for many of them as they gathered at the Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company (SAPTCO) bus stand on King Abdulaziz Street in Balad, downtown Jeddah, to board the buses.

They ignored the initial hassle as they enjoyed the comfortable ride in air-conditioned buses launched by SAPTCO as opposed to the earlier ill-maintained private haflas (mini buses).

Office-goers are also adjusting their time to commute to their work place according to the SPATCO bus timing.

The private haflas (mini buses) have been banned by the Public Transport Authority (PTA) as they did not provide the necessary safety for passengers.

Unaware of the ban on haflas, many passengers gathered at designated pick-up points in Balad, Bab Sharif and Bab Makkah.

“I waited for some time at Bawadi Sitteen to catch a hafla to go to Sharafiyah, but later learned that haflas have been banned,” said Ayub Khan, an Indian expatriate.

“I was aware of the ban as my hafla driver last weekend told us that it would be his last trip to Balad,” said Roy Jeflin, a Filipino.

Welcoming the new service, Mohammed Zubair Alam, a Bangladesh expatriate who was waiting to go to Kilo 14 from Balad, said that the new SAPTCO buses are safe and comfortable.

However, many passengers at the bus stand told Saudi Gazette that the time interval between two buses for the same route is about an hour. They urged the authorities to increase the frequency of the shuttle service.

SAPTCO has stationed its employees at the bus stand to answer passengers’ enquiries and also to help them recharge their commuter cards.

However, some passengers faced difficulties in recharging their cards. At present only seven routes are covered by SAPTCO buses in the city. Some distant routes are not yet covered and as a result many commuters are facing difficulties.