Impact of congestion growth in Muscat
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION & LITERATURE REVIEW
Statement of the problem
Most of the countries experienced significant increases in car ownership over the past two decades, resulting in rapid increases in total travel on the roads, and declining absolute market shares for public transport. Bonsall (2000) notes that, in the UK, car ownership rose from 30% of households in 1960 to 70% in 1995. In the US, by 2000, car ownership had exceeded an average of one car per licensed driver in many urban areas. Similar patterns are evident in many other countries around the world. With this burgeoning of car ownership has come the obvious consequence-escalating road congestion. As a result, policy makers have become increasingly focused on the idea of reducing congestion (Stradling, 2000). The mechanisms for reducing congestion are several. Included among these are increasing ride sharing (a mainstay of Transportation Demand Management policies in the US, for example), increasing the use of public transport, providing high occupancy vehicle lanes on various roadways, etc. Initially, Singapore, and then several cities in Norway experimented with introducing congestion charges for central cities. Most recently, London has introduced congestion charging for the central area, in an effort to reduce central London's congestion levels. Following on the heels of that, many other cities around the world are now seriously considering similar congestion.
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Therefore, Muscat as the capital of Sultanate of Oman, the increasing of car ownership is one of the higher growths per household. In 1999 the passenger cars estimated 174 per 1000 people by comparing Muscat with wealthy Asian cities car ownership 123 per 1000 people (Nicholas Low and Brendan Gleeson,2003).
42 percent more than Asian wealthy cities, in the same time the population of Muscat is much lower than any of Asian cities. Therefore, Muscat is one of the cities, which suffering from congestion in this world.
Current traffic situation
- Many factors influence the travel behaviour and cause disturbances through unexpected external effects, such as oil prices, economic recession etc. (Known as explanatory variables). Thus if one understands these factors, one can forecast future behaviour on the basis of projections of these variables. However, it is conventional to base travel forecasts on past trends described by time series data over a period of years. In Muscat, the principal weakness is a lack of reliable traffic flow data to identify trends in past growth.
- It is reasonable to assume therefore, that increases in population and economic activity will result in increased road traffic and land use development. Land use development relates to the need to house population increases and to new employment opportunities created by economic growth.
- Analysis of available data from 1980 to the present showed that:
- The population of Oman has increased at an average rate of about 10 per cent per annum.
- The national economy has grown at rates varying between -3 and + 17 per cent per annum.
- The national vehicle stock has increased at an average rate of 12 per cent per annum (the national car stock has grown even faster, at an average rate of 15 per cent per annum).
Current conditions and characteristics
- Local conditions need to be thoroughly examined before any remedial measures can be taken. The study has observed and identified many problems and characteristics concerning the traffic and road network conditions. It has been estimated that the total AM' peak. hour flow over the whole of the network is about 35000 vehicles, out of which 8000 vehicles on Sultan Qaboos street alone (two way flow) which constitute 23% of the total network flow. Comparing this with the car ownership (estimated to be 11 0 per 1000 population) implies that there is significant travel. demand on the network.
- The Stage I identified the following characteristics and problems, all of which will be exacerbated by future traffic growth:
- The road network in Muscat modern but depends, to a great extend, on the satisfactory operation of a single main road: Sultan Qaboos Street.
- The demonstrably high (but unqualified) traffic growth rates of recent years mean that this "spine" route is reaching its operational limits at times of peak demand. Peak period delays are occurring at important junctions (Such as Al Khuwair, Al Ghubra Roundabout etc..) and on the highway. There are no alternative routes at present, until express way open, which be expecting in the end of 2010.
- Traffic signal equipment in the important commercial centre of Ruwi is not exploiting the full potential of the existing road system.
- All parking is free of charge and demand in the CBD is reaching levels that are creating supply problems. The operation of the road system is adversely affected by on-street (verge) parking in a number of locations.
- Public transport services (buses) are provided by the Oman National Transport Company. It is understood that the scheduled ONTC services are subsidised by profitable charter services. The overall financial performance of ONTC, which is a state owned company, is just profitable. This performance is forcing modernisation of the bus fleet not to take place hence, reducing its appeal to potential customers. The average age of the bus fleet is increasing thus reducing the attraction of public transport.
- Bus services are supplemented by minibus and taxi services. Public transport is rarely used in preference to a private car. This applies particularly to scheduled bus services. The future role, ownership and organisation of ONTC were supposed to be the subject of a separate study.
- Coordination between the development of land use and transport policies at a local level is limited and could be improved.
- Operational road safety and traffic control are the responsibility of ROP. Traffic control is to an acceptable standard although the manual control of some important signalised junctions in Ruwi should be reviewed. As in all countries, there is scope for improved standards of road safety through established driver education programmes.
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The economic cost to the community of road accidents is not systematically quantified in Oman. In countries where such costs are quantified, they are found to be large and are used to justify traffic and safety management investment programmes often concerned with junction improvements to reduce accident risk.
Purpose of the study
In scientific research the purpose statement indicates 'why you want to do the study and what you intend to accomplish' (Locke, Spirduso, and Silverman, 2000). According to this;
The purpose of this sequential, mixed methods study is to first explore the impact of congestion growth in Muscat city as well as determining the percentage growth over the last ten year. Then based on the experiences and needs defined, the second phase will be to develop a solution that suits and match the requirement of transport provision needs based on the previous information as well as information collected in this phase; namely observation of both modern and professional ways of improving traffic demand management
This research study are important to different sectors. Because, the congestion is not only effecting the road users, but also society, economic, environment, and human. However, it's important to consider externalities from congestion by implementing traffic demand management and improve public transport as one of the holistic solution in Muscat city.
Statements and rationale for mixing methods
This research is intended to follow a mixed methods research design. According to this, the aim of this section is to define and give a rationale for using this specific research design for this specific study.
Mixed methods research design is defined as 'the collection or analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study in which the data are collected concurrently or sequentially, are given a priority, and involve integration of the data at one or more stages in the process of the research' (Creswell, 2003).
Historically mixed research method is relatively not a new idea. It probably originated in 1959, when Campbell and Fiske used multiple methods to study validity of psychological traits. Their encouragement to others to use their 'multimethod matrix' prompted others to examine using mixed methods in their enquiry (Creswell, 2003). Recognizing that all research methods have limitations, researchers felt that biases inherent in any single method could neutralizes or cancel the biases of other methods another advantage of using mixed research methods design is that it allows researchers to simultaneously generalize results from a sample to a population and to gain deeper understanding of the phenomenon of interest (Hanson, Creswell, Creswell, Plano Clark, & Petska 2005).
In this respect, this study will mix different research methods, for the purpose of being able to generalize research results that will be obtained, from a representative sample, but at the same time give insights and understanding of issues tackled through quantitative techniques. This will ultimately be achieved through the use and integration of data in the various research stages namely; data collection, data analysis and discussion and reporting of findings.
One rationale is that, in order to generalize weather road congestion in Muscat city have implications to the road users and public transport, a quantitative tool need to be used and applied. At the same time, the in depth of such suffering needs to be qualitatively addressed. As well as describing the processes of managing congestion by local authority. Another rationale for using mixed methods research is to 'convey the needs of supportive bus services and thus this research is intending to explore their issues, which are related to road congestion
Although there are many challenges in using mixed methods research design, such as; the researcher should be familiar with both quantitative and qualitative research methods, also the need for extensive data collection (Creswell, 2003). But the growth and the developments of using this method proved the successful and the advantages of using this specific design, as stated earlier. In conclusion, for the purpose of this study a mixed methods research design will be used in order to achieve its stated purpose.
This research will attempt to answer the following questions:
- What are the challenges faced by road authority in Muscat?
- What coping strategies for congestion growth?
- Is there any improvement in public transport in regard to coping congestion?
- What type of traffic demand management and technique used in Muscat?
- Is there a clear vision of improving public transport?
Sustainable transport systems
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A sustainable transport system is "one in which fuel consumption, vehicle emissions, safety, congestion and local and economics access are of such levels that they can be sustained into the indefinite future without causing great or irreparable harm to future generation of people around the world" Richardson(1999). To achieve sustainable transport system, it should balance socio-economic and environmental consideration in recognition of the following:
- Economic: A sustainable transport system is one that is affordable, operates fairly and efficiently, offers a choice of transport mode, supports a competitive economy, as well as balanced regional development;
- Environmental: A sustainable transport system limits emissions and waste within the planet's ability to absorb them, uses renewable resources at or below the rates of generation, and uses non-renewable resources at or below the of development of renewable substitutes, while minimizing the impact on the use of land and the generation of noise; and
- Social: A sustainable transport system allows the basic access and development needs of individuals, companies, and society to be met safety and in a manner consistent with human and ecosystem health, promotes equity within between successive generations. Transportation facilities and activities can have significant
Surface transport accounts for approximately 25% of all C02 emissions globally, and transport is the only sector where emissions are increasing. While there are significant advances being made in reducing C02 emissions from other sectors such as industry and construction, technology has so far failed to find a solution for transport.
Any technological advances in reducing C02 emissions have been more or less cancelled out by the increasing number of trips we are making. There is a fairly simple correlation between increasing GDP and higher trip levels.
At the same time, developing countries are fast adopting the private car as their preferred mode' of choice, and this is impacting on global C02 levels. This is set to increase with the introduction of the ultra low cost cars, such as the Nano car from Tata Motors in India, which has a price of about $3800.
In addition to C02 issues, there are also issues related to noise and air pollution. Increasing traffic levels lead to increased visual intrusion, noise, and polluted air. Monitoring stations are already set up in many world cities to measure the impact of traffic on noise and air. However, these issues are not solely related to the private car. There are also significant environmental issues related to freight, whether this is by road or by sea.
- Traffic alone is responsible for breaching air quality standards in Muscat City
- The hot climate is very important influence of travel behaviour
- Key sensitive environmental areas are in close proximity to Muscat City (wetlands)
Globally, there have been several important decision making meetings set to resolve global warming, which have included discussions on the role of-transport. The Kyoto Protocol was' agreed in December 1997, and was in operation by February 2005. The Protocol requires industrialised countries to reduce their total emissions of greenhouse gases by about five per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2012. Each country that signed the protocol agreed to their own specific target. Developing countries were not required to meet quantitative emission goals. The world is now working towards a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, but one that can be agreed by all countries.
In Europe time wasted while delayed on traffic congested roads costs close to 1 % of the European Union's GDP. This high cost explains the desire to improve European transport networks, and reduce reliance on road based vehicles. The Middle East is increasingly experiencing similar. issues to Europe in terms of traffic congestion, and this is expected to result in a similar impact on GDP. With the rapidly growing economies of the Middle East, China, India, and Russia, there is an ever increasing demand for transport, and much of this is being planned for by road.
However, for these counties and regions to realise their full potential, there is a need for fast and reliable transport links that are not subject to congestion or delay. These links are required between their raw material suppliers and manufacturers, and ultimately to their customers, i.e. a national, regional, and worldwide network.
- An efficient transport system will be vital to achieving Plan 2020 economic goals
- Need to effectively involve private and public sector provision
Governments and developers understand the importance of transport as a catalyst for regeneration, improving productivity, and creating profit, but are reluctant to invest the high infrastructure costs, particularly when delivery of this is likely to be in the long term. Roads are often seen as a lower cost solution, but this is only related to construction and maintenance. The cost to the environment and to the social well being of the people is rarely included.
New economic solutions to investing in new schemes are also being devised, particularly for high cost infrastructure schemes such as new rail lines. These are developed to maximise the success of implementing a new scheme. One solution gaining favour is a property transport levy, whereby affected businesses, residents, and developers pay a lump sum for new transport infrastructure on the basis that property values and rents will increase as a result of the new transport scheme. An example of this is the Crossrail scheme in London, which is partly funded by contributions from private businesses in the financial districts.
We have already noted that on a global scale, car use is increasing, while public transport, walking, and cycling are in decline. It is becoming common place for children to be driven to school rather than walk, cycle or use public transport. Workers are increasingly using the private car for their commuting trip, and short leisure and shopping trips are driven rather than walked. For example, in suburban London it has been recorded that 32% of car trips are less than one mile.
There is also strong evidence of worsening global health in the form of increasing levels of obesity, childhood diabetes, and heart disease. If healthier options for travelling were introduced globally, and people were encouraged out of their cars, this could provide a strong boost to health worldwide. Walking 20 minutes a day is one way to incorporate exercise into a daily routine to maintain a minimum level of fitness, but if there is no infrastructure to allow this, then' car use will be preferred, even for the shortest trips.
- Road traffic accident rates in Muscat amongst the highest in the world
- Pedestrian accidents (at 40% of total) are a particular concern
- Muscat's city road network leads to major severance issues
- Road network is very pedestrian and cycle unfriendly
- Unique social mix makes provision of public transport more challenging
For a country to maximise its economic performance, it is important that its citizens have access to jobs, services, and goods. For a fully functioning global world class economy, this access should not be restricted to only those who are able to afford access to a car. Access for all is promoted in many countries around the world, with the provision of public transport. infrastructure, and walking and cycling routes. Countries without this level of access tend to find they have disconnected communities, with reduced opportunities to break the cycle of poverty.
The other movement issue related to transport is the severance effect of building new transport corridors, whether these are road or rail based. Given their longitudinal nature, they tend to split and divide communities, where only selected crossing points are provided for pedestrians and cyclists.
Linked to the risk of overcoming transport barriers is the connection between vehicular movements and road traffic accidents. These are either vehicle - vehicle accidents or vehicle pedestrian I cyclist accidents.
One of the reasons for road traffic accidents is the provision of corridors which encourage speeding, through the creation of what is known as a 'canyon' effect. This is when drivers feel separated from their environment, through the incorporation of pedestrian barriers and banning of the other users. This lead driver to have little regard for other more vulnerable users. In contrast, the safest streets tend to be those which either have limited or no access to private car.
Effects of congestion
The current literature is very limited especially with respect to Arab countries. Therefore, I will use literature from Europe and state as well as some of the experience of development countries.
The first problem with congested traffic conditions is that these conditions are inherently unstable. That is, vehicles may flow quite well at speeds that are only modestly reduced from free-flow speeds, but flow may also easily break down, with the formation of queues, stop-and-go conditions, and average speeds that are very low. This instability produces one of the negatives of congestion- travel time unreliability. A second negative of congestion, is that extra time is required under these conditions, time that may be considered to be non-productive time. For those who are caught in congested conditions and who are driving outside normal working hours, it is questionable as to whether the time losses from congested conditions have an economic impact. Redmond and Mokhtarian, (2001) show that many commuters do not perceive congestion as necessarily an evil of their daily commute. Based on their study, Nasser (2002) notes that, in these modern times, many people can find complete privacy in only two places-the car or the toilet. For many, there is actually "...peace and relaxation commuting alone. For many, it's the only time they have to read (by listening to books on tape), enjoy music they like, catch up on the news, smoke without being chastised or make personal phone calls in total privacy" (Nasser, 2002). Such attitudes do not bode well for carpooling, which is often seen as one of the alternatives to reduce congestion.
New road to reduce congestion
Anthony Downs (1992), argues that building our way out of existing traffic congestion problems doesn't work because of "triple convergence."; When a road is widened to reduce traffic congestion, three responses occur over time to reduce the benefit of increased capacity. First, drivers who previously used alternate routes will switch to the newly expanded facility. Second, drivers who previously traveled on the congested facility during off-peak hours will switch to the peak period. Third, many people who car pooled or used public transit to avoid the hassle of stop-and-go traffic during the peak period will choose the convenience of driving alone on the newly uncongested link in the transportation system. The cumulative effect of the three types of individual behavioral responses to increased capacity ends up forcing equilibrium traffic flow on the expanded facility back toward its initial congested state.
This scenario exactly happening in Muscat, government continuously focusing to improve road infrastructure to solve a congestion problem, but within certain of time traffic volume build up by moving road users from congested routes to the new road and encouraging people to use their own private transport.
Recent studies show that building or widening highways induces more traffic, called induced travel. Shortly after the lanes or road is opened traffic will increase to 10 to 50% of the new roadway capacity as public transit or carpool riders switch to driving, or motorists decide to take more or longer trips or switch routes. This is short-term induced travel. In the longer term (three years or more), as the new roadway capacity stimulates more sprawl and motorists move farther from work and shopping, the total induced travel rises to 50 to 100% of the roadway¹s new capacity. This extra traffic clogs local streets at both ends of the highway travel. The following table summarizes these studies.
Accessibility and mobility
Accessibility can be defined as the ease of reaching destinations (Levine and Garb, 2002), whereas mobility may be defined as the ease of movement. While these two concepts are clearly related, they are not the same thing. If a person lives in an area where there are many possible destinations close by, accessibility may be very high, even though mobility might be constrained, as in a CBD. On the other hand, if a person lives in a relatively remote area, accessibility may be poor because considerable travel time and cost is required to reach any destination, although mobility may be high. In 1960, world inhabitants travelled an average of 1820 km by car, bus, railway or aircraft. Three decades later, the annual distance travelled had increased to 4390 km. In light of a 75% world population growth, absolute motorised mobility rose by a factor greater than four( Schafer, 1998).
As Levine and Garb (2002) point out, mobility and accessibility are measured in different ways. Mobility is measured as a generalised cost of travel (time plus money) per kilometre; accessibility is measured as the generalized cost of travel per destination. Generally, mobility is closely related to the level of service provided on the transport system. Higher levels of service represent lower costs per kilometre of travel. Thus, increases in capacity of the system will almost always lead to an increase in mobility, at least in the short term. Accessibility, however, is related to destinations, and therefore, requires attention both to land use patterns and to the quality of destinations. Miller, (1999).
Increasing congestion is likely to produce decreases in both mobility and accessibility. Longer travel times and increased monetary costs of travel, as a result of congestion, obviously increase the travel cost per kilometre. At the same time, these increased travel times may also result in reduced accessibility, by making potential destinations more expensive to reach. However, different methods for tackling congestion will be likely to have quite different effects on each of mobility and accessibility, as is discussed subsequently in this paper
Increasing public transport use
Public transport has an important role to play within most urban areas. There still remain significant groups of the population who either cannot afford to own and operate a car, or who make a conscious choice to avoid the car. There are also specific movements within the urban area to which public transport is better suited than the car, under virtually any circumstances. This is particularly the case for work trips going to the central business districts of many cities. It is also an important means of travel for the elderly who can no longer drive or no longer wish to, and for young people who are not yet old enough to hold a drivers license, or who cannot yet afford a car.
In modern history, and perhaps in all of transport history, there has never been success in shifting people into public transport at the rate that is called for in many contemporaneous policy statements. This alone, however, does not mean to say that such shifts into public transport are not possible. It may just be that no one has come up with the appropriate policy mix (carrots and sticks) to produce these sorts of market shifts. It is also possible that there has not existed previously the political courage to implement what must be done if such large shifts in public transport markets are to occur. It is, however, important to look at the magnitude of what is required.
Demand Management Toolbox
Demand management is playing important factor to solve traffic growth. There is a broad range of TDM measures, including:
- Transportation Management Associations: leverage public and private funds to increase the use of ridesharing and other commuting options that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality
- Including or improving pedestrian-oriented design elements, such as short pedestrian crossings, wide sidewalks and street trees.
- Requiring users of parking to pay the costs directly, as opposed to sharing the costs indirectly with others through increased rents and tax subsidies.
- Including and improving public transportation infrastructure, such as subway entrances, bus stops and routes.
- Subsidizing transit costs for employees or residents.
- Bicycle-friendly facilities and environments, including secure bike storage areas and showers. See Bicycle transportation engineering
- Providing active transportation (AT) facilities including bike lanes and multi-use trails.
- Flex-time work schedules with employers to reduce congestion at peak times
- Congestion pricing tolls during peak hours.
- Road space rationing by restricting travel based on license plate number, at certain times and places.
- Workplace travel plans
- Road space reallocation, aiming to re-balance provision between private cars which often predominate due to high spatial allocations for roadside parking, and for sustainable modes.
- Time, Distance and Place (TDP) Road Pricing, where road users are charged based on when, where and how much they drive. Some transportation experts believe TDP pricing is an integral part of the next generation in transportation demand management
"The common strategy of sustainable mobility should contain the impact on the environment, while allowing transport to continue to fulfill its economic and social function, particularly in the context of the single market, and thus ensure the long term development of transport in the community. It should also contribute to social and economic cohesion in the community and to the new opportunities for the peripheral regions "(Banister,2000)
Our sustainable strategy in Muscat focusing on economic issues only. However, we will end up by heavily a congestion road, and we can't be coping with the economic growth. Unless we prepare green transport strategy, which provide better integration of land use and transport, and taking serious consideration of social and environment as well as economic concern.
The Intuitional Issues
- Urban Policies and Development
- The institutional issue refers to how the country, society and private agencies define and implement transport -related public policies. Several public policies influence socio-spatial organization, including urban development, land use, housing, transport and traffic. For my research topic three main areas are relevant:
- Urban planning;
- Transport planning; and
- Traffic management
These are associated with three objectives: land, circulation of structure and means, and circulation patterns. The urban planning and transport planning are considered to be most important public action. Traffic management is often considered to be secondary importance, related more technical, simple objectives that should be dealt with engineers. While urban planning is mainly concerned with land use provision of public services, transport planning involves of definition of circulation infrastructure and means.
The Higher Committee for Town Planning government body responsible for implementing plans of economic and social development in the Sultanate in the fields of physical and spatial, and through the preparation of detailed plans at the regional and urban areas. Has been formally established by Royal Decree No. 27/85, dated the twenty-fourth of February 1985, was rebuilt more than once on the requirements of the public interest.
The main tasks of the Commission: policy-making of urban planning at all levels of in accordance with economic considerations, social and environmental development strategy of urban development so as to achieve overall development goals and sustainable development in all provinces and regions of the Sultanate approvals planning the allocation of land for various purposes in establishing controls and propose the necessary legislation to regulate and direct the work of the establishment of the Urban Planning an integrated system for geographic information includes databases and maps for all provinces and regions of the Sultanate production of base maps that meet the requirements of the civil work of planning and development in coordination with the concerned authorities Lay the foundations for valuing real estate expropriated under the law of expropriation for public benefit
Transport planning deals with definition of the circulation infrastructure- pavements, roads, terminal, and operational characteristics of public transport. Road provision is often a state responsibility in urban area; local government is responsible for planning and building roads. In Muscat city still roads is not attractive to private investors; Word Bank classifies local roads as having low potential for private financiers (Word Bank, 1996). The infrastructure planning is performed by technical and bureaucratic authorities that develop short- and long range investment plan, using forecasting techniques. Major forces that act in parallel are the construction sectors, real estate sector, automobile users, and public transport industries.
The planning of public transport supply is often a public task. It can be organized within a lightly regulated market, in an unregulated one as in most Asian countries. In Oman transport sector managed by government body and individuals. Private operators are runs services on long distance between main cities.
Differential political representation by users is important. Public transport users in developing countries, in contrast to these in some developed countries, are not as influential as bureaucrats and private operators. Unlike the middle class, who are represented through the state technocracy, captive public transport users (majority of the population) face several barriers to representation. The first is their lack of representations in the upper bureaucracy and technocracy, because most of them lack formal education. Second, popular movements have been represented by directional and authoritarian movement (Kowarick, 1979). Third, transport is only one member of major problems face by public. Therefore, public transport is provided by loosely regulated private operators and captive users have to negotiate directly with them, with little success (unless a competitive alternative appears).
Traffic management defines how the available circulation space will be distributed between users. Traffic management has traditionally combined three areas of expertise: engineering, education, and enforcement know as "3E". it has also been based on another rigid tried: man, vehicle, and road.
Engineering is performed by technically trained people, who have little concern for social and political issues. The traffic engineer has many instrument deals with technical concern, and may become immersed in a technical world that avoids social concern. Education is performed, in order of importance, by policemen, socially concern engineers and socially scientists. Policemen are frequently involved since they are often in charge of traffic control.
Transport policies in Oman
The recent amendments to Law 4 give the ministry of transportation and communications responsibility for developing general transport strategy and the implementation of the Oman's air, land and sea transport policy, including recommendations on legislation, privatisation and tariffs. In some areas these policies are set out in at a high level in the 2007-8 Government Policy Agenda and are being implemented through the actions of the ministry of transportation and communications or other agencies, for example in respect to the provision of taxi and hire car services, bus franchises, airport and port development, and the commitment to build a freight railway.
However in other areas, they are not defined, for example in respect of:
- The tariffs that should be set for the bus franchise operations;
- The overall approach to road freight regulation and enforcement;
- Travel demand management (fiscal, regulatory and 'soft' behaviour change measures);
- The approach to licensing private and public ferry operations; and
- Road safety policy and enforcement of regulations.
Some of these areas will be considered in the development of the new transport strategy plan, which will provide the context for evaluating different policy combinations.
This applies particularly to the combination of travel demand management measures and public transport pricing options which will be required to manage mode shift to achieve the required level of service on the proposed transport network, and to privatisation options which will be considered in new transport strategy plan.
National Transport Institutions
Ministry of Transportation and Communications is the main institution with transport responsibility across Oman. This remit is being extended to cover policy development. strategic planning, regulation and the oversight of major programs in public transport, highways and maritime more generally. This remit may be extended further to include road safety in the future. In addition, in line with the government objective to separate policy formulation and regulation from policy delivery, a number of agencies have been set in the last few years, including:
- Oman national transport company
- Oman aviations
- Ports authorities
The above institutional is not operated by private sector. Its government companies getting subside from ministry of finance, and operated under ministry of transportation and communications. Each company works dependently in their field, and there is corporation between them. Muscat Municipality responsible of road building in Muscat city, and cooperating with Royal Oman Police through traffic committee, which consist of members from ROP, MM, and municipality council.
Mobility and income
Within any specific society, mobility increase with income. This may be called a universal phenomenon, regardless of geography and social conditions. This means that in a particular city those with higher incomes will travel more than those with lower incomes; the ratio between the mobility of the higher and lower income strata may be 3 or 4. In Ouagadougou, both overall and motorized mobility rises with income (Eduardo A Vasconcellos, 2001).
Income influence with lifestyle, especially in gulf countries. Most development in all fields after 19070s, when these countries start producing oil. For example, in Oman in 1970s the total cars not exceed more than 800 vehicles and total asphalted roads less than 100 kilometres. However, the fast development and GNI per Capita, which increase pressure on the road infrastructure and public transport, remain without any improvement.
CHAPTER 2: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Characteristics of mixed methods research
Mixed research methods design usually features, which includes; an explicit purpose statement, research questions (RQs), and rationale for using both quantitative and qualitative methods and data in the study (Creswell, 2003 in Hanson, Petska, Creswell, and Creswell 2005).
Type of mixed methods design
There are six types of mixed methods research designs in the literature of mixed methods research. Three of them are sequential and the other three are concurrent designs. These designs are: sequential explanatory, sequential exploratory, sequential transformative designs, concurrent triangulation, concurrent nested designs, and concurrent transformative designs (Creswell, 2003; Hanson, Petska, Creswell, and Creswell 2005).
This research will use sequential explanatory strategy model. Reasons for such choice are that; in this specific design data is collected and analysis of quantitative data followed by the collection and analysis of qualitative data. The priority typically is given to the quantitative data, and the two methods are integrated during the interpretation phase of study. The purpose of the sequential explanatory design typically is to use qualitative results to assist in explaining and interpreting the finding of a primarily quantitative study. In addition this design feature makes it easy to describe and report. The main weakness of this design is the length of time involved in data collection. A major advantage of this design is that it is flexible in employing methods that will best serve the theoretical perspective of the researcher.
Types of data
For the purpose of this research both quantitative and qualitative data will be used in this study to answer the research question and achieve its stated objectives. As explained earlier data will be concurrently collected in this research; that means the data collection will be a single process in which both types of quantitative data and qualitative will be collected respectively.
Data analysis and validity procedures
The qualitative data (primary data) will be analysed through the use of Microsoft excel. The qualitative data will be obtained mainly from interviews conducted with both service providers' and road authority supervisors. The quantitative data (secondary data) will be analysed also by using Microsoft excel software. This data will be obtained from the collected from Muscat municipality, Royal Oman police, and Oman national transport.
Logical Analysis/Matrix Analysis: An outline of generalized causation, logical reasoning process, etc. Use charts, graphs, and explanatory figures (including context charts, growth gradients, scatterplots, event-state flow charts, casual networks) provides a means of dealing with the cumbersome nature of the narrative text and field notes. They are "designed to assemble organized information in an immediately accessible, compact form, so that the analyst can see what is happening and either draw justified conclusions or move on to the next-step analysis the display suggests may be useful" (Miles and Huberman, 1984).
Management and data recording
Glaser and Strauss (1967) developed a coding system as the foundation for the constant comparative method and grounded theory. Lincoln and Guba (1985) adapted their own coding system as a primary data processing procedure. Their coding involved four phases: comparing incident categories (i.e., assign incidents to categories, compare new incidents to previous incidents in same and different groups coded in the same category, write memos on ideas concerning categories and the fit of incidents, write rules for assigning categories), integrating categories and their properties (shifting from comparing incidents to incidents to comparing incidents to rules), delimiting the theory (simplifying the codes, number of categories are reduced and categories become saturated), and writing the theory.
Role of the Researcher
In this research the researcher role is to carry out and fully engage in all the activities of the research. Make sure of applying the appropriate research tools and scales or measures. The researcher also is fully responsible of the ethical issues in conducting the activities of the research throughout the research project. Another role is to ensure the quality of procedures, data collection and analysis of the research work.
- A list of the traffic management methods used by Muscat Municipality (road authority).
- A lack of corporation between public transport and road authority in Muscat.
- No specific transportation plan to make sustainable transport in Muscat.
- A lack of environmental consideration from transport emissions.
Every research having difficulties, which is not surprised to me. However, the main problem appeared from Muscat municipality due to the lack of the information and transportation studies on the last ten years. Unfortunately, there are no traffic count points on the main streets, traffic data ...etc.
Secondly, road authority supervisors not willing to accept that more roads lead to increasing car ownership. I understand from them, they are not responsible for controlling the demand. They are responsible for building new roads. I faced other issues during collecting primary data to getting approval from top management to release information, which took long time to get it. I conceived in developing countries the main issues for research the bur curacy of the management, and they are not cop orating with a researcher due to transparency and lack of planning.
Chapter 3: Finding
Part 1: Car Ownership in Oman
Development in Oman was limited until the large scale extraction of oil started in the 1970's. The Oman economy has remained oil dominated and with the large increases in oil prices this decade economic growth has boomed. Oman population has grown almost linear during the past three decades at an average growth rate of approximately 3.8% between 1980 and today. Therefore, The unprecedented wealth and growth is leading to massive pressure on the transportation system that was developed for roads only. Most development has occurred in last forty year and has outstripped the ability of the planning system to keep up
Road infrastructure in Muscat started after 1970s, when oil revenue the main government fund for all development projects. The figure 1 shows the total kilometer constructed between 1973 to 2005. Therefore, the graph indicated the road length during 1970s less than 50 kms per year. Oil prices reflect the developments in the road infrastructure, when the oil prices increased the road construction project increased.
That's when oil prices dropped down in the middle of 1970s and early of 1990s, effects on the road lengths. Also when the oil prices increased between 2000 to 2008, high revenue allowed a government to expand road length more than 300 percent after 2001 until 2008.
Oman's income depends on oil production and oil prices. However, the development and the wealth of a citizen related to the oil revenue.
Car Ownership Growth
As I mentioned above Oman economy is very sensitive with oil prices. Figure 3 is clearly.
It indicates car registered between 1999 to 2008. The overhaul growth is more than 15 percent on the last ten years. In the same time, the period between 2004 to 2008 the number of cars registered is more than double.
If we are comparing the car ownership growth between 1980 to 1995 and 1999 to 2008, I found the growth gradually increasing with average 7.5 percent, but during 1999 to 2008 the average growth increased to 15 percent, especially after 2004 when oil prices exceeded $50, which increase the income of the people in Oman.
The reasons of car ownership growth
Generally, car ownership grows all over the world on the last thirty years. Especially, in the gulf state due to economic growth and remains the transportation system depend on private cars, with respect of limited bus systems in every country serving few populations who don't have cars and most of them expertise's from Asian countries working as labor.
My research focused in Muscat city. The problem started on 1994, when the government decided to stop transporting all employees working in public sector, which includes ministries, hospitals, educations,. Etc., and issuing transport allowances for the employees. However, most employees start to use their own cars for traveling to work, figure 4 shows car ownership increases between 1993 to 1995 with more than 10 to 15 percent.
Secondly, higher education in Oman was limited, we have only one university (Sultan Qaboos University) and few colleges which provide internal accommodation for students, but nowadays many European and local universities are open branches in Muscat and offering higher education without travelling aboard. Therefore, most students in universities using their own cars figure 5 shows car parking of Oman Technical College.
The third reason limited bus service inside Muscat, unfortunately, Oman National Transport Company is operating few routes inside Muscat and focusing on long distance routes out of Muscat city. The shortage of bus serves in Muscat is compensating by private cars and private taxes.
Private Car by Household in Muscat City
Demographics of the city of Muscat is consist of 60 per cent citizen and 40 per cent expatriate. The most expatriate are labor staying in company accommodation and they don't have own vehicles. However, the figure 6 shows approximately 37,000 households Who Do Not Own A Car. There is few Omani families not owning car.
Households Who Do Not Own a Car
The most expatriate is labor staying in companies accommodation, and they don't have own vehicles. However, the figure 6 shows approximately 37,000 households who do not own a car. There are few Omani families not owning a car.
Households Who Own Just One Car
Figure 6 shows 37 per cent who own one car, also this group mainly includes skilled expatriate, doctors, teachers, engineers, and technicians and medal class of the citizens who is Lord of the sole breadwinner of the family and his wife staying at home..
Households Who Own Two Or More Cars
17 per cent of households in Muscat having two cars and 8 per cent having more than two cars. These households both parents working or one of their sons or daughter owning car, especially when students move from secondary schools to universities and colleges, they need private transport.
Car Ownership Trend in Oman
Car ownership trend is shown in table (3.1) private owned at one in 1970, which increased to 41 in 1980, 68 in 1990, 117 in 2000, and 173 in 2008. Overall growth in car ownership between 1980- 2000 is estimated at 5.5percent and between 1990- 2000 at 8.2 percent, also between 2000 - 2008 is estimated 9.5percent.
Vehicles Registered vs. Vehicle Cancelled
Vehicle registered vs. vehicles canceled is shown in table (0), which is clearly indicated that the vehicles registered between 2004 - 2008 increased by 26 percent than those vehicles which registered between 1998-2003. On other hands the vehicles which been canceled in overall not exceeded more than 3.3 percent from the total registered vehicles. That's mean car ownership in Oman increasing with higher percentage.
Driving license issued
Due to demand on private car for transportation in Muscat, driving license issued is relating to car ownership. Figure 3.3 shown the driving license issued between 1998-2008, which indicates that's increased with seven percent, which closed to car ownership growth 7.5 percent. Students the higher category issued license due to their needs for private car for their daily transportation to universities and colleges. The graph shows period between 2004-2008 more licenses issued comparing by the period between 1998-2003 and this is Related to more universities and colleages are opened in Muscat city to absorb the higher education demands, and most universities not offering transportation for students.
All over the world private car is more reliable transportation choice for people. Especially in Muscat due to absence of public transport system, all population are depends on private cars for their transportation activities. Therefore, car ownership growth will continues until government seriously involve to implement reliable public transport modes, which encouraging road user to leave their car at home and use public transport.
Secondly, fuel prices in Oman are very cheap comparing by other developing countries, which encouraging people to use their own car. Anyhow, Oman is one of the highest car ownership growths with 7.5 per cent per annum in developing countries. However, Muscat will be facing serious problem on next ten years, if transport policy remains same.
Part 2: Public Transport in Muscat
Although the Oman National Transport Company was established in 1972 for the transfer of school children in the governorate of Muscat, but it turned into a national transportation company in 1984, where the conduct of long-distance lines in Muscat governorate to each of the Dhofar Governorate and the districts in the interior, Eastern and outward and inward, and Central including leopards Marmul, Qarn Alam and Saih Rawl Central Region. Are also lines running to each of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi through Buraimi and to the Emirate of Dubai by Wajajah and Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and operates lines to Saudi Arabia on Hajj and Umrah seasons, and the Syrian Arab Republic through the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan over the holidays. The company has many of the buses of various types of modern large and luxurious, medium and small. And contribute flights Oman National Transport Company, a cost almost symbolic in promoting domestic tourism, especially as the company sought to increase the number of flights in all regions of the Sultanate and expand its activities in preparation for the allocated during the coming period. Movement to move to different regions and governorates
ONTC Operation in Muscat
After turning Oman National Transport Company in 1984 as national transportation company, the company started to operate on all Muscat roads due to low car ownership in Muscat city, ONTC was operating 20 routes inside Muscat linking all district, commercial, and industrial areas with network. Table 3.3 shown some of the routes operated in Muscat, two routes still in use and all of other routes were canceled between 2000 - 2005 due to the following reasons mentioned by ONTC GM's from an interview with him :-
- Tough competition from mini bus taxi's and caps.
- Mini bus taxi's and caps are more reliable transport mode in Muscat, these taxi's based on sharing seats, and passengers only pay per seat not for complete trip, and this offering cheap fares for passengers comparing by ONTC busses.
- Mini bus and caps offering high frequency comparing by ONTC busses, most ONTC bus frequency not less than 20 minutes as higher frequency routes. Other routes between 40- 60 minutes.
- Non stop service between main stations;
- Fast and flexible, is not fixed with route path;
- All mini buses and caps with A/C condition.
The absence of a clear vision for the national transport company since its inception loses the strategic role of the desired objective. One of the main reasons not to develop the company's Smear:
- Absence of financial support on an ongoing basis.
- Lack of coordination between other government institutions.
- The absence of a clear transport policy aimed at reducing reliance on private vehicles.
- Flaws planning for transport infrastructure to become a national find a special parking for the buses in the main streets and service roads.
- Not to give priority to the passage of buses, urban transport
ONTC having financial issues to replace the old fleet with new one due to unprofitable operation, and central government not support company in regular bases. Always, government wants company to run services in profitable operation without subsidy. However, the company is not able to renew the old fleet since 2002, when government injected amounts to replace some off old busses without an air conditioner with new one, where the temperature rising more than 50 degrees during summer.
Season, where the temperature rising more than 50 degrees during summer.
Unfortunately, bus stations, bus stop shelters, and ticket shops are not available on all cities, the biggest bus station in Ruwi without any facilities such as toilets, coffee shop or proper chairs for waiting. The poor facilities not encouraging passengers to wait for public transport.
This is another issue faced Oman national transport company, by replacing most expatriate drivers with Oman national drivers to absorbing the unemployed and job seekers in private sector. Most of these drivers they don't have experience, which affect ONTC operation such as:
- Higher salaries than expatriates drivers;
- Sudden absence without any permissions;
- Not following company safety regulation;
- Busses breakdown and road accidents increased
- Braking speed limit, and
- Failure to maintain the bus during operation.
Therefore, above issues caused to damage the reliability of the bus service and increased the cost of the operation.
Operation Performance of Muscat Routes
Route 02 is also connecting Mutrah bazaar with Wadi Adei, which is located with different main streets, but unfortunately this route indicates on last four year poor performance. This clearly shown in figure 3.8: especially on 2007 and 2008 dropped dramatically below 50 thousand passengers per year, that's mean most of the journeys load index less than 10 percent of bus capacity, which probably lead to cancel the service on this route.
Reducing Operation Cost
Oman national transport company is changed their policy by focusing on the profitable routes to survive after government financial support reduced on the last six years. However, the company stated to sun the service to long distance destination for examples Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Mecca, Jorden, and South and North cities of Oman. Figure 3.9 shows Dubai express route one of the profitable route since new busses entered service in 2001, the number of passengers increased by 25 percent.
Due to the rescission by the end of 2008, the number of passengers declined, which is normal in this situation. However, Oman national transport company trying to reducing operation cost by closing all routes in Muscat, where is no demand for public transport? Figure 3.10 routes 29 have been closed more than seven years back for same reasons.
Finally, we can say there is no national transport which can be relied upon as an alternative for the private transport in Muscat city, which can participate to reduce traffic growth.
A Share Taxi's in Muscat
A share taxi is a mode of transport Mode of transport is a overall term for the different kinds of transport services that are often used to transport people or cargo, that falls between private transport and traditional bus transport, often with a fixed or semi-fixed route, but with the supplemented availability of stopping anywhere to pick up or drop off passengers and not having fixed time timetables. The vehicles used range from standard 4 seater cars up to 15 seater minibuses.
Share taxis are the main system of public transport Public transport comprises passenger transportation services, which are available for use by the general public, in contrast to modes for private use such as automobiles or vehicles for hire. Public transport services are usually paid for by fares charged to each passenger, with changing levels of subsidy in many countries (especially developing countries) and are known by many different names around the world. They often are privately owned and have an anarchic operating style, lacking central control or more organisation.
Public Perception to Public Transport
To assess the Levels of satisfaction with bus services in Muscat region I used survey methods to measure perception and reliability of public transport.
The 37 respondents of 60 surveys were distributed to different participants including supervisors, engineers, students, and bus users. Most of the participants completed surveys by interviewed them face to face, respondents were surprising and interesting to participating with any one researching about transportation problem in Muscat due to the daily suffering of the suffocating traffic jam in the streets of Muscat. Also few of respondents using public transport for their traveling either to the work or other traveling purpose, and the rest of the respondents they don't use public transport at all.
The 37 percent of respondents saying transport service is adequate and 30 percent saying that the service is very poor and not reliable
Respondents measuring reliability of public transport service as following factors:-
- The bus quality,
- No proper bus stops,
- Low bus frequencies,
- No special rate for students and elderly people,
- Fair is higher than shared taxi, and
- Limited services.
Most of the respondent's feeling that Oman national transport company working as a private company based on profit without considering the quality of the services and expansions service. Figure 3.13 shown the need of reliable transport service in Muscat, all respondents are answered a question.
The Is there an urgent need for national transport in Muscat or use private transport?
48 percent of respondents strongly agreed, to the importance of reliability of public transport to encouraging car users to use public transport. Only 7 percent of respondents disagreed, and There is a segment of society is the national transport for people with limited income, which cannot manage to buy and maintain vehicle. And 26 percent of respondents neither agree and disagree to the need of public transport, some of the respondents mentioned that fuel is cheap and no car park restriction in the most of Muscat area except some of the business area like CBD.
Secondly, 46 percent of respondents are strongly agreed and 33 percent agreed that an Effective Transport system important for local economy this is shown in figure 3.14, and Oman is making efforts to increase the contribution of tourism to gross domestic product, and the tourism industry depends on the provision of excellent infrastructure such as transport.
Finally, all of the questionnaire respondents agree on the importance of transport in the social and economic as well as environment.
Survey is indicating that the main factors make the car user to use public transport, and these factors are smeller to the factors for any reliable transport services all over the world. Weather in western countries or in developing countries.
The important factors ranked by respondents:-
- Service frequency, 49 percent of respondents ranking service frequency is very important factor, which encourage car user to use public transport, we believed waiting time is the main issue for ONTC service. The minimum frequency every 30 to 40 min in Muscat routes.
- Bus stops, the second important factors are the distance of the bus stop from their accommodation or workplace. The standard distance between 300 to 400metres from to bus stops, this is acceptable by public transport users.
- Service that starts earlier in the morning and ends later at night, dedicated bus lanes and parking cost and tolls make driving more expensive, these factors are not priority for users.
The government should take the initiative to organize and develop the national transport and develop a strategy to make the national transportation sustainable projects that take into account the social, economic and environmental.
The current situation will lead to worsening traffic situation and reach the level of paralysis due to increased t
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