Back in early 2011, the Jordanian government announced that it would be building a new impressive bus transit aimed at reducing congestion along Amman’s busiest routes. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plans entailed operating high-capacity buses on segregated lanes that could carry more than 120 passengers and run on a three-minute frequency during peak hours. It was seen as a huge leap towards better public transport in the city but the recent suspension of these plans – without much explanation and one year before their planned inauguration – hasn’t been well received.
Protesters Take To Street Against Suspension of Bus Plans
Around a month ago, around 50 young Jordanians staged a protest against the decision to suspend the bus transit plans. They brought along an ‘express donkey’ to their demonstration at a lane established in the early stages of the bus project. Speaking to the Jordan Times, one protester said, “I was really glad when GAM [Greater Amman Municipality] announced the idea. Insufficient public transport is one of the main problems we face and we thought this issue would be resolved with the BRT.”
The bus plans have been suspended by the Jordanian cabinet until a government committee entrusted with reviewing the project completes feasibility plans. The committee however has already agreed that Amman would benefit from a specialised public transport system and some have suggested that corruption has played a role in the delay. The project has been financed by the French Development Agency to the tune of JD166 million.
Poor Economy or Corruption Behind Delay?
The state of the economy also appears to be hindering the project. Writing for Ammon News, Yusuf Mansur said, “Major economic decisions have been swinging back and forth, and there is fear and paranoia in the public sector. Instead of continuing the work of previous cabinets, important projects such as the BRT (Bus Rapid Transport) was first canned, days later placed under scrutiny, and then went into hiatus or limbo. Now we don’t know if it is coming or going.”
Amman has been criticised in the past due to its poor public transport and lack of pedestrian facilities. It was hoped that these bus plans along with recent success of expanding the sidewalks would encourage further action. Following recent protest in the Middle East demanding better public transport, let’s hope that governments start paying more attention and taking the demands of their citizens more seriously.
:: Jordan Times
: Image via Noura Salem/Flickr.
For more on public transport in Jordan see: