Malé City Council has conducted a bus service survey to identify potential improvements to the capital’s public transport.
“From this survey, we found that many people are using the bus service, and many want to improve the service. Necessary improvements must be brought about as a top priority,” said Male’ Mayor Mohamed Shihab.
The survey was conducted after the council received a number of complaints regarding buses. It consisted of thirty questions posed to a randomly selected sample of 180 people.
The results showed that women make up the majority of passengers (52 percent) using the service which was introduced in 2011.
The percentage of people travelling by bus is low during weekends, particularly on Fridays, the survey revealed. It also indicated that most people (40 percent) use the bus in the morning compared to the afternoons (20 percent) and evenings (16 percent).
While only 31 percent reported being unhappy with the overall bus service in Malé, respondents reported several concerns.
Approximately half of respondents said they were unhappy with the bus fare – currently MVR5 per journey, while 58 percent said were unhappy with the hours of service. The bus currently runs from 6am until 1am.
Over a third of respondents did not approve of the current seating arrangements on the bus while another 32 percent complained about the condition of the vehicles. Twenty one percent said they were unhappy with behavior of bus conductors, while a similar number of people said they were bothered by the behavior of other passengers.
Respondents complained over punctuality of buses, with only 24 percent stating that buses arrived on time.
Even though buses are supposed to arrive at each stop every 15 minutes, 30 percent of respondents said they had to wait for over 20 minutes. Those who expressed discontentment with the bus stops (35 percent) said their main concerns was the lack of a shelter or a place to sit down.
A majority of respondents (61 percent) wanted more bus routes to be introduced.
Shihab said that, while the results of the survey indicated the sentiments of those who utilise the service, there would be many who were not taking the bus due to certain other issues.
He said that providing a bus service in Malé is very challenging due to the conditions of the city, including heavy traffic and construction work, but also due to failures of the service provider.
The service is provided by MVK Maldives Pvt Ltd, who are also facing criticism over failures in providing public ferry services.
The mayor noted that any reforms would be made in accordance with the agreement between MVK and the council.