Implementation of Makkah Public Transport Program Approved

Implementation of Makkah Public Transport Program Approved :Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued a decree at the beginning of February 2017, approving implementation of the first phase of the Makkah Public Transport Program (MPTP).

Prince Khaled Al Faisal, adviser to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Emir of Makkah Province and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee supervising the public transport project in the region, appreciated approval of the project and stressed that it has become a pressing need in the Holy City in view of the increasing number of worshippers and pilgrims. Saudi Arabia’s cabinet has approved an increase of 800,000 in the number of pilgrims who could perform Hajj in 2017, bringing the total number to 2.6 million.

Sultan Al-Dowsari, Spokesman for the Makkah Province in Saudi Arabia, announced on 12 February 2017 that the first phase of the bus project will be implemented by a consortium comprising National Express and Hafil Transportation, under the supervision of the Makkah Development Authority.

According to Mr. Al Dowsari the bus project will have twelve bus lines, covering the entire city. Five lines will have dedicated lanes and seven will be used for local travel.

Makkah Mayor Osama Al Bar thanked the country rulers for the approval. Makkah Development Authority Secretary Dr. Hisham Al Faleh commended the role of Prince Khaled Al-Faisal in making the travel of the pilgrims comfortable and safe.

Pilgrims will board the buses at bus stands located at the four entry points to the city: the Makkah – Jeddah Expressway, Madinah Road, Al Laith and As Sail. 500 buses will be utilized, with maintenance and operation of them taking place in Makkah. The project is currently expected to take 10 years to be completed.

Hafil Transportation Company was formed in 1998 by the Mohamed Yousuf Naghi & Brothers Group, with an initial fleet of 800 buses customized for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. Hafil today has a fleet of over 12,000 vehicles, with fully equipped workshops and service centers throughout the Kingdom, making it one of the largest bus and coach companies in the Middle East.

National Express Group is a leading public transport operator with bus, coach and rail services in the UK, Continental Europe, North Africa, North America and the Middle East. National Express announced in September 2014 that its joint venture, Bahrain Public Transport Company, had been awarded a 10 year contract to operate bus services by the Bahraini Ministry of Transportation.

Mr. Al Dowsari stated that implementation of the metro part of the project has also been approved and will be conducted with the cooperation of the private sector.

The 11 km long Green Line will be implemented in the first phase, with seven stations. It will link Al Mashaaer train station in Mina with Marwa station, north of the Grand Mosque, and will then be extended to the Haramain High Speed Rail station.

The Makkah Public Transport Program, approved in 2012, is a comprehensive public transport design and build project that includes Metro, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Express Bus, Feeder Bus, all the associated infrastructure and Intelligent Transport Systems.

A total of five tenders (one for the Makkah bus system and four for the Makkah Metro) were planned to be awarded in 2016 but were delayed due to financial restructuring of the project necessary to introduce private sector partnership, as well as some redesign activities.

In July 2013 WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff was appointed as Programme Management Office Consultants (PMOC) to deliver the strategic planning of the MPTP, to control, guide, oversee, coordinate and integrate the service delivery of the different elements of the program.

The city of Makkah is located in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia and is regarded as the holiest city of Islam. Hajj pilgrimage to it is obligatory for all able Muslims.

Writer: John Carlo Ottaviani

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