Qatar Bus Route Optimisation Study
The public transport network currently comprises a selection of scheduled public bus services operated by the state-owned operator Mowasalat. The network has expanded from 10 buses serving six routes in 2005 to just under 300 vehicles operating in service on over 50 routes. The bus services currently experience ridership which is below expectations as is the current public transport mode share of less than 1% of journeys. Although there have been aspirations to enhance and expand the network, with the Qatar Interim Bus Action Plan (QIBAP) providing some vision about future developments, until early 2017 the network has largely stagnated.
Furthermore, while the current public transport network in Qatar only extends to bus, there is set to be a significant step-change in the coming years which will enhance the public transport offering through the opening of the Doha Metro Phase 1 in 2020 and Lusail Light Rail Phase 1 in mid-2019 followed by Phase 2 in mid-2020. The public bus network needs not only to serve the short-term needs of the local population but also to expand flexibly to complement the enhanced rail-based public transport system, and prepare the integrated transport network for the pressures of the World Cup in 2022.
We initially undertook a comprehensive fact-finding investigation which catalogued existing usage of the bus network, investigated current travel behaviour for non-bus users, and examined projections of demand and travel patterns in 2021 to identify the strengths and weaknesses of existing arrangements and the opportunities and challenges for the future – articulated in a SWOC analysis. This fact-finding included engagement with the local population through fieldwork with both existing bus users and non-users.
Armed with this data, we then iteratively developed an improved bus network which would complement the rail-based modes by 2021 – the network was primarily focused ion Doha (as the major concentration of population) but also covered outlying urban settlements in Qatar as well as the need to provide public transport for the various industrial sites across the state. Development of the bus network was advised through use of a bespoke Bus Planning Tool developed from the strategic transport model of Qatar, which allowed rapid testing of alternatives. Once the optimum future bus network was agreed, supporting documentation was prepared for the Ministry of Transport and Communication (MOTC) including financial and implementation plans and the inputs for the MOTC’s investment business case.