Vital public transport sector needs serious support

Bus - Ameer
(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The transport system is critical to economic growth and prosperity. It is used to access jobs, educational institutions, shopping, recreation, and as such, it is a basic human right that the government has the obligation to fulfill.

Hazem Zureiqat, a consultant in the field of transport and traffic, told Jordan News that “for decades, our transport system has been relying primarily on the private car; we have been investing in and expanding our road infrastructure to accommodate private means of transportation”.

The transport system, he added, should provide equitable access and mobility to all. It should be “reliable, affordable and comfortable to users” and “to achieve this reliability, many services need to be subsidized”, he said.

Legislative changes that would make possible such a subsidy have been made, but have not taken effect, he said, adding: “The Passenger Transport Law No. 19/2017 mentioned the establishment of a Passenger Transport Support Fund which is funded through various sources, including a JD0.02 fee imposed on the price of every liter of gasoline and diesel sold in Jordan. This fund has still not come to fruition more than five years after the law came into effect.”

While large-scale projects, such as the Bus Rapid Transit project, and the acquisition of new buses are essential to improving the service, Zureiqat said that “we also need to work on existing services and on establishing service quality standards and the financial and legislative fundamentals that ensure that all these services are successful and sustainable.”

“Once public transport services become a viable option, consideration should be given to imposing limitations on using the private car, at least in some areas. We need a mobility system that is more balanced. We cannot continue in the current trajectory of 6–7 percent annual increase in car ownership, or else we will reach complete deadlock,” he stressed.

Analyst and economic journalist Salama Al-Daraawi told Jordan News that governments in the last five years “have not crystallized a clear strategy with regard to public transportation, despite the speeches indicating that transportation will be one of the most important axes of interest due to its economic impact”.

According to Daraawi, the transport sector suffers greatly as a result of the high prices of fuel, which caused huge losses to operators in this sector, and this makes it incumbent on the government to intervene and support the transport sector.

“The decision to allocate JD5 million as financial support to the sector is insufficient and does not cover the minimum losses incurred by it,” he said.

Former minister of transport Lina Shbeeb told Jordan News that an acceptable public transport service must have “regular and continuous times”, and “provide the service in a guaranteed way for the user, and this requires support to cover the cost without raising the tariff for the citizen”.

Support for the sector, she said, “will be reflected in human and economic development”.

Abla Al-Washah, Land Transport Regulatory Commission spokesperson, said that the commission strategy is bound to stimulate economic growth and is committed to providing the best services to citizens at affordable costs. اضافة اعلان


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