headline3KUWAIT: The worst nightmare that a road user could experience is being caught in an unyielding and unmerciful traffic jams that might delay arrival to any destination. It has been a long, troublesome issue affecting people in Kuwait, and the question still remains: How to solve this problem? Some individuals blame it on the increasing number of private vehicles. Some point fingers at other people, saying that they are violating traffic laws, which in turn leads to accusations of being the source of “all the problems in the world”.

As seen in several developed countries, public transportation has always played a key role in having less traffic congestions as well as less cases of “road rage”. Kuwait joined the bid in promoting public transportation back on Sept 20, 1962 with the establishment of the Kuwait Public Transportation Company (KPTC), but despite this, the problem still exists. Speaking to KUNA, executive at KPTC Abdullah Al-Nasser said that many people use public transportation to get by in Kuwait, but in recent years, the number of users has dwindled.

Looking at the number of bus tickets sold by KPTC in 1989, as many as 121 million tickets were purchased in that year, said Nasser, who compared the number to the 2014 sales figures from three public transportation companies. Only 100 million tickets were sold last year, indicated Nasser. This is an alarming statistic, he said, adding that some 4 million people in Kuwait, both nationals and expatriates, prefer driving their own cars over using buses and taxis.

Since KPTC’s establishment till the late 1980s, the trend in using public transportation was heading upwards with 15 to 16 percent of the population, he said, comparing that with the current weak percentage, which is around five to six. Despite the private sector venturing into public transportation with modern and air-conditioned buses and taxis, people are still avoiding public transportation, said Nasser.

The increasing number of cars, old infrastructure and roads, as well as other problems, translate to the never-ending traffic congestions that people experience nowadays, said the official. Nasser also touched on the subject of wooing citizens to using public transportation, stressing that to do that, there should be a strong campaign to encourage Kuwaitis to use buses and other modes of public transportation.

Reflecting different opinions on the issue, citizens Faisal Al-Abdullah, Meshal Hamad, Anoud Al-Saleh and Abdullah Bandr said that promoting public transportation as the only solution to the problem camouflages the real reasons for the dilemma. They said that to make public transportation accessible for citizens, the government and companies should work on upgrading transportation services, impose restrictions on owning private vehicles and find means to shorten the time period of trips taken by buses and other public transportation means.

For better or worse, public transportation might not be working as it should be in Kuwait, but this does not deter the fact that the world is benefiting from such a solution. As a commemoration to the effectiveness of public transportation, the world celebrates it on Sept 22, with many nations encouraging people to leave their cars at home and use buses, trains and subways to move from one place to another. – KUNA