Jordanian families spend 17% of income on transportation, says World Bank

‘System suffers from quality infrastructure, low standards for vehicle safety’

amman traffic
Queues of traffic in Amman. (Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Jordanian families spend an average of 17 percent of their income on transportation, while the average round trip time is 2.5 hours, a World Bank diagnostic study for public transportation in Jordan that was issued on Tuesday, revealed, according to Al-Mamlaka TV. اضافة اعلان

The study added that the estimated cost incurred by Jordan as a result of deficiencies related to public transportation amounted to about $3 billion annually, or at least 6 percent of the country’s GDP, without calculating its impact on women’s participation in the labor force.

As for young people, 78 percent of graduates believe that the inefficiency of transportation is an obstacle to accessing jobs, and young people spend about 23 percent of their income on transportation, and the percentage could rise to 46 percent in some regions.

Regional Director of the Mashreq Department at the World Bank Saroj Kumar Jha, said on Tuesday that women in the countries of the Middle East are unable to fully contribute to the economic development of their countries due to the obstacles they face in transportation systems.

He added, during a session organized by the bank in Amman on improving gender-responsive public transportation, with the participation of Minister of Transport Wajih Azaizeh, that “people’s inability to feel sufficiently safe when using public transportation and the high costs of other transportation means limiting their ability to engage in work.”

The study indicated that “the transportation system in Jordan suffers from low-quality infrastructure and facilities, low standards for vehicle maintenance and safety, in addition to the lack of considerations related to gender or people with disabilities.”

It added that Jordan faces additional major challenges, which are “fragmented institutional settings and processes, insufficient, and imbalanced service provision, poor coverage of the public transport network, no integration between public transport service and fare, and a lack of information for users about routes, parking, appointments, and arrival and departure times.”

The study showed that public transportation in Jordan is unreliable, ineffective, and unsafe. But while 64 percent of users are satisfied with the public transportation system, 34 percent of women are not satisfied, and 18 percent are not satisfied at all.

Moreover, the high demand was not adequately met by improving the quality of public transport, which led to a decrease in the number of passengers and a shift to the use of private vehicles. It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions from the Jordanian transportation sector have increased to more than 11,000 gigagrams of CO2 per year over the same time period, costing the economy between $500–1,000 million annually.

In the study, the World Bank confirmed that public transportation in Jordan represents a low percentage of modes, amounting to 13 percent. It is divided into private vehicles (33 percent), on foot (26 percent), mass transportation (13 percent), and taxis (9 percent), other (19 percent).

From 2008 to 2018, the study added that “private vehicles had increased by 93.5 percent, while public transportation vehicles increased by only 44.7 percent.”

Deficiencies related to transportation affect economic performance, with high annual costs, distributed over (traffic congestions JD1.5 billion, deaths and injuries as a result of traffic accidents JD296 million, environmental degradation JD143 to JD332 million, and noise pollution JD160 to JD54 million,  according to the study, which called for improving access to services such as hospitals and colleges.

Jah explained that “the cost of enrolling children in nurseries is one of the obstacles that reduce women’s economic participation in the labor market, in addition to another factor represented in men’s unwillingness to allow women to work, which weakens any real development in the economy.” He called for support for women’s economic participation.

He also called for finding short, long-term and emergency solutions to help women who wish to join the labor market and provide safety in means of transportation.

“It is not possible to achieve an economic vision without raising the economic participation of women in Jordan, which has reached 14 percent,” according to Jah, who confirmed that the World Bank continues to provide the necessary assistance to develop public transportation in the countries of the region.

He pointed out that the bank supports an organized approach to solve problems related to public transportation in Jordan through coordination between institutions to create conditions that allow women to access work, and the best evidence of this is the work to support the rapid transit bus system.

The bank recommended standardizing buses, establishing a fund to buy back public transport licenses, integrating tariffs and operations, and adopting a national road safety plan.

It called for the implementation of smart transportation systems including open ticket protocol, fleet management and user information, a traffic demand management program including parking management, restricting the use of private cars, and imposing congestion fees, supporting a national road safety plan, pedestrian and cycling plans, and urban development.

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