MTCC’s Mini-bus Service: Success evident in the first week

The bus service in capital Male’ City was non-existent for the past decade. The public opted for owning vehicles or calling for taxis during the period. The latter reportedly often ending up with an unfavorable result. Thus the public demanded for the re-introduction of public transport system within the Male’ City, mainly to alleviate from spending high fares and extended ‘waiting-time’.

State-owned enterprise, Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) – that already operated bus services between Male’, Airport and Hulhumale’ via the Sinamale’ bridge – responded to the public demand by initiating mini bus service within the city.

Convenience, once again

The anticipated mini bus service under the Raajje Transport Link (RTL) commenced on September 5. The service is provided by 18 buses on three routes in the city. Bus services are currently available on Orchid Route, Ameenee Route and Sosan Route.

The passengers who wish to sit comfortably and idly in an airconditioned ‘beast on wheels’ weaving through the busy streets of Male’, can travel free of charge for the first two weeks. Those who have been walking on the busy streets of the city now wait at the bus stops to board these vibrant-blue vehicles and ‘float’ their way to their destination.

As with any new service that commenced for the public, the mini bus service also attracted criticism from the public, mainly because of traffic jams in the streets that are already narrowed by haphazardly parked motorbikes and cars. It is worth noting that the complaints did not come from those who traveled on the bus, but rather those revving their vehicles behind these buses; taxi drivers, moped drivers and avid youth speeding their way to a cafe’ for their caffeine dose. The complaints about traffic jams is also not new for Male’, which has become overcrowded by motorized vehicles in the recent decades.

Albeit the expected grumbles, the service has been praised by the general public. The service persevered despite the whimpering of four-wheel and two-wheel vehicle owners.

Public praise, commuter count and accident avoidance

MTCC, who operate the mini bus, revealed that 48,370 passengers used the mini bus service in the first week alone, averaging nearly 7,000 a day. The company shared statistics with local media Raajje,mv, who reported the number increased day by day.

For the individual days of the first week, 2257 passengers traveled on Monday, 3255 on Tuesday, 8024 on Wednesday, 8349 on Thursday, 8063 on Friday, 9329 on Saturday and 9093 on Sunday.

In addition to the praise-worthy number, the 18 buses in rotation within the city also did not cause any major road incident – which had been expected from the concerned public before commencement. After a public outcry due to bus-related incidents earlier this year, the public had doubts regarding safety of travels. However, the mini bus proved to be safe and convenient.

Overall, with the public praise, increasing number of passengers who used the service, and absence of road incidents, the popularity of the service is evident. MTCC also noted these statistics show that the mini bus service launched in the city is a success.

Standard service: trial run ends next Monday

The service is free for the first two weeks until Monday, September 19. After the free trial is over, passengers can then travel by simply picking up their QR ticket through the RTL website and application. Tickets cost MVR 7.

Though the service will be charged after the trial period, people over the age of 65 and children under the age of three, school students in uniforms, as well as people with special needs will be able to travel free of charge upon presentation of their ID cards and cards issued by NSP for people with special needs.

The mini buses are designed to be easily boarded and disembarked by people with special needs. The buses have 20 seats and can carry up to 30 people at a time.

If the bus service continues business as usual, it will be a reliable, effective way of transport for commuters – including people on the way to schools, hospitals, or other necessary services.