> News
> "The Amman BRT project is a step forward for workers"

"The Amman BRT project is a step forward for workers"

Phenix Center
Jordan Labor Watch - Morad Kotkot
Since the pilot launch of the Amman Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) last week, questions have been raised about the extent to which the project serves workers in the private and public sectors, in terms of cost and time, as well as its accessibility for people with disabilities.
A field visit was conducted by Jordan Labor Watch’s team with a number of workers who used the BRT, regarding its services. The majority of passengers confirmed that the BRT project saved them time and effort, as it has its own dedicated lane away from traffic jams.
As for the cost, some passengers expected the BRT project to reduce their spending on transportation, while other passengers predicted that it will lead them to increase spending on transportation, especially after the price of the bus is raised to 65 piasters two weeks after its launch.
Yara, one of the passengers on the BRT who lives in the Hay Nazzal neighborhood and works at a pharmacy in Sweileh, says that the BRT project saved her time after previously experiencing daily delays caused by traffic jams during her commute to and from work.
She also found the BRT pricing to be "reasonable”, noting that using the BRT will help her reduce the cost to commute to work. "I was paying about two and a half dinars to get to my job before the BRT began operating, but now I will only pay 1 dinar and 65 piasters," she said. 
Mamdooh, a public security officer who works in the Jordan Valley, said while the BRT saved him time, it did not save him money,  because "there is no BRT bus stop near the Middle East Complex" where he used to board buses.
Mamdouh explains to Jordan Labor Watch that he now has to take a taxi downtown  to the BRT station to cut down the time to reach Sweileh, and then commutes to his workplace from there. 
Regarding the accessibility of the BRT for people with disabilities, Ezzat, a person with motor impairment, spoke about the experience of using the BRT in a video that was shared across several social media pages. He expressed his satisfaction with the project, especially that the BRT is convenient for people with disabilities, adding that the bathrooms in BRT are also available to them.
Tactile paving has been installed on the sidewalks for visually impaired people at all BRPstations and surrounding sidewalks. Despite this, implementing accessibility in service is “inadequate” according to Ezzat,  who pointed out that there were obstacles in his path, such as traffic lights and water drainage. These obstacles may lead visually impaired people to collide into them.
Tactile paving is a system of textured ground surface on paths, designed to help people with visual impairment navigate safely. The tactile pavement system used near BRT stops takes the form of orange, vertical lines and protrudes so that visually impaired people can recognize it by touching it with their cane or their feet, allowing them to walk on it without hindrance.
Ezzat called for repairing these sidewalks and removing the obstacles from the path, explaining that accessibility is "a mark of civilized society and is a popular demand, and it is the right of large groups in society."
The former Minister of Transport Anmar Al-Khasawneh says that the project is "modern [...] and has easy service and quick access to the areas that workers frequently travel to, and will save them time and cost."
In a statement to Jordan Labor Watch, Al-Khasawneh predicted that in the near future, car owners would prefer to use the BRT instead of their own vehicles, as the cost of taking the BRT would be lower than the cost of fuel, and has the added advantage of avoiding traffic congestions.
Al-Khasawneh believes that the first phase of the project's operation will reduce traffic congestion by 25 percent, which means that it will become easier for workers to reach their destinations.
He stressed the importance of continuity for the project and the acceleration of its full operation to serve the largest possible category of workers in the private and public sectors. He also recommended public transport projects similar to the express bus to be initiated in traffic-ridden governorates, such as Irbid and Zarqa.
Ahmed Awad, director of the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, said the project will allow workers to reach their workplaces more easily and will reduce their transportation expenses.
Mr Awad explained that the General Municipality of Amman had embarked upon an advanced project, which must now correct some of the errors in it, such as those related to accessibility for people with visual impairment in bus stations.
The National Strategy for Social Protection called for the expansion of safe public transport for women that takes into account the needs of people with disabilities and that is affordable for the poor and those living in rural areas.
According to the National Strategy, this includes providing free licenses to non-profit associations providing transport services and supporting public transportation for low-paid workers through the National Aid Fund "Takaful" program in the event that the electronic bus payment and tracking system becomes operational.
Additionally, according to the National Strategy, transportation allowance vouchers should be provided to eligible families in accordance with the results of the estimation of the family needs issued by the "Takaful" program.
The trial run of the first track of the BRT project began last Tuesday, marking the completion of this vital public transport project in Amman. The number of passengers who have used the BRT so far has reached 25,000.
The first BRT route starts from Sweileh Station, passing through Queen Rania Street (University of Jordan) to the City Sports Roundabout Station to Sharif Nasser Bin Jamil Street to Wadi Saqra to the Rabia Signals, then the Fifth Circle, Princess Basma Street and Wadi Abdoun, to the Museum Station in Ras al-Ain, for a distance of 16 km and at a regular frequency of 5 minutes between each trip.