While the topic of “mass transportation” was presented as a strong and effective solution to the traffic jams and congestion witnessed in the streets of Kuwait, the problem lies in the fact that it is “a culture that is absent in the Kuwaiti society”, although studies and research have proved that it contributed to solving the traffic congestion problems in the United States of America by 50 percent.
While opinions are unanimous that “mass public transport is one of the main means of reducing traffic congestion,” according to a local Arabic daily, some attribute the absence of a culture of its use to several reasons, including fear of losing privacy, and the desire for freedom of movement according to the destination one wants.
The Vice President of the Kuwait Society for Traffic Safety, retired Brigadier Bader Saleh Al-Hammadi, said “the experience of mass transportation contributed to solving the problem of traffic jams in many countries,” noting at the same time that “climate conditions, high temperature and humidity have reduced the demand for this type of transportation inside Kuwait.”
Al Hammadi added, “this file concerns everyone who uses the street, and mass transit can contribute to solving the traffic problem. But the problem lies in the fact that a large part of the people do not want to use this type of transport,” adding at the same time, “The summer period, which extends for more than five months, is interspersed with a period of intense heat, humidity and dust, and this makes people think about the issue of waiting at the bus stops in harsh weather conditions.”
He added, “We urge the use of mass transportation, but people like privacy in transportation, and officials urge the activation of the mass transportation system, but it is people who do not want that,” pointing out that “the use of the mass transportation system is a culture, and its absence in Kuwait may be due to the fact that the bus transports passengers to the specified destination where they wish to complete their transactions, but rather to a place close to it.”
He continued, “In countries that use the mass transportation system, people are used to this from their early educational stages, so we find that they are faced with a simple cost method that saves them from huge sums that are paid to own a private car,” noting that “the system of electric trains that are used in mass transportation.”
Member of the Board of Directors of the Kuwait Society for Traffic Safety, Dr. Jamal Al-Mutawa, said that “the solutions offered to reduce traffic congestion are direct and indirect across the country, changing working hours for government institutions and schools, activating e-government, raising the cost of the trip through road tax, reviewing the price of fuel and the price of vehicle insurance, and allocating special lanes for vehicles with more than one passenger.”
Al-Mutawa said, “For mass transportation to become effective in Kuwait, we need public transportation that is punctual, safe and quick to reach the desired destination, and covers most of the required and vital destinations, convenient for passengers, and has nominal fees.”
On the reasons for the absence of a culture of mass transportation, Al-Mutawa said that the reasons are “the ease of obtaining a driver’s license, which encourages the use of private vehicles instead of mass transportation, the ease of obtaining inexpensive vehicles that may not conform to the conditions of security and durability, and the symbolic fees to insure the vehicle regardless of its type, and the symbolic fees for fuel.”