Traffic congestion losses amount to JD1.5 billion annually

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AMMAN — Delays caused by traffic congestion in Amman cost an estimate of JD1.5 billion annually, which takes into account the costs of fuel and time.

Riyad Kharabsheh, executive director of Public Transport and Infrastructure Transport Projects at Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), explained that this figure is an estimate based on “wasted fuel in traffic jams, wasted time value, and other indirect costs.”

Hazem Zureiqat, a transportation consultant at Engicon and former GAM official, pointed to “a mathematical transport model developed for GAM, in which person-hours were calculated with and without traffic congestion. The difference was then multiplied by an assumed value of time (JD1 per hour).”

Kharabsheh told Jordan News that traffic congestion in Amman is attributed in large part to the absence of an integrated and reliable public transportation system, which compels people to rely on private means of transportation.

According to the municipal official, Jordan is “lagging behind in its public transportation services”. He attributed this to the cumulative impact of unsound public policies, where the horizontal coordination between the Ministry of Transport and municipalities to develop cities’ infrastructure is “at its weakest”.

The 2019 annual report by the Public Security Directorate (PSD) states that 1 in 6 people in Jordan owned a car. Based on Jordan’s Green Growth National Action Plan 2021–2025, which was conducted by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Transport, vehicle ownership is increasing at a rate of 5.3 percent per year.

A 2019 report on Jordan’s roads by the World Bank states that “Jordan’s road infrastructure has not kept pace with population growth. Jordanian towns and cities have dense road networks and face severe road congestion.” It also noted that the poor condition of the country’s road network has hindered its economic growth, according to the report.

Zureiqat agreed that Amman is a “car-oriented city” where the lack of transportation options has led to an increase in car ownership. This, he said, has resulted in traffic congestion, which “in and of itself has huge economic and environmental costs.”

The Green Growth Plan has stated that “this situation contributes to increasing fossil fuel use, ambient air pollution and restricted access to employment opportunities, education and markets.”

In an interview with Jordan News, Lina Shbeeb, former minister of transport, warned of the environmental impact of the issue, citing that almost 50 percent of the Kingdom’s energy bill goes to transportation.

In an interview with Jordan News, Lina Shbeeb, former minister of transport, warned of the environmental impact of the issue, citing that almost 50 percent of the Kingdom’s energy bill goes to transportation.

According to a 2019 report by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR), transportation in 2018 consumed 3,363 of 6,761 tonnes of oil equivalent, which equates to 49 percent.

In addition to the environmental costs of traffic congestion, Zureiqat also points out that traffic in Amman has “significant implications on economic development, employment, and social mobility.”

The Green Growth National Action Plan states that 78 percent of youth are unable to join the workforce due to the inaccessibility of public transport, while 47 percent of Jordanian women have also turned down employment opportunities for the same reason.

Zureiqat said: “Jordan has one of the lowest rates of female participation in the workforce, and recent studies suggest that one of the main reasons for which women do not work is the lack of transport options.”

Kharabsheh acknowledges the problem, describing it as a “huge challenge”. Nonetheless, he reported that GAM is working on building technical and managerial capabilities in order to improve the public transport system in Amman.

GAM is also expecting the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to begin operating at the end of the current year.

According to the project’s literature, the 11-package BRT, “will be the centerpiece of a fully-integrated and hierarchical public transport network.”

“It is the first of the nation’s projects in public transport and it will be the backbone of the public transportation services network,” Kharabsheh concluded.
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