Over a year ago, we reported (with considerable excitement) that Jordan was planning to deal with the growing congestion of the capital city by establishing a new line of buses. These high-capacity buses would carry more than 120 passengers along exclusive bus lanes, and would operate every three minutes during peak time. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plans were aimed at reducing traffic along Amman’s busiest routes by improving public transport- a victory for the environment and common sense we thought.
However a couple of months before the project’s inauguration it was announced that the BRT plans have been shelved pending further review. There were murmurs that corruption had led to the project’s demise although officially, the project was halted due to ‘feasibility and funding concerns.’
In December, Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh referred the case to the justice ministry to investigate. Ayman Smadi, the director of the project acknowledged that there had been certain political factors behind the suspension of the project. Speaking to the Jordan Times, he explained that “there was huge pressure from Parliament to halt work on the project” and alleged that there were no valid technical reasons for doing so. He also added that the BRT project was being used as a “scapegoat” by those who wanted to attack Greater Amman Municipality’s management and certain deputies.
At a seminar held this week looking at the reasons behind the suspension of the project, several engineers insisted that the project was the city’s best option. They added that those in support of the project and the general public need to be more vocal in their support so that political barriers could be overcome.
“The right to transport is as essential as the right to healthcare,” said Mohammed Al Asadi, an architect specialised in urban planning who attended the seminar. Indicating his support for BRT, Asadi added that any public transportation strategy must include building a fast, comfortable and affordable mass transit system for all citizens.
:: Jordan Times
: Image via paalia/flickr.
For more on Jordan’s public transport issues see: