A royal order has approved the first phase of the Mecca bus transport project, according to a Saudi Gazette report

The report cited Khaled al-Faisal, governor of Mecca Province and chairman of the ministerial committee supervising the public transport project in the region.

The royal order is understood to have mandated the Mecca Province Development Authority to expedite “the completion of procedures to construct bus stations and the needed road network.”

“Public transport project in the holy city has become a pressing need in view of the increasing number of worshippers and pilgrims,” Al-Faisal said.

The contract for the region’s bus system is one of the five contracts that were intended to be awarded in early 2016. The other four contracts were for were for the civil, systems and rolling stock supply of the Mecca Metro scheme.

The award of the contracts has been put on hold in 2016, following the kingdom’s austerity measures in light of lower oil revenues.

It is understood that the client, the Mecca Mass Rail Transit Company, was discussing funding options with contractors and banks throughout 2016.

The client, however, has not confirmed such discussions.

In April last year, MEED was told that all five contracts were awaiting final approval from the Royal Court.

In Riyadh, a 1,200km bus rapid transit (BRT) will complement the under-construction Riyadh Metro.  The BRT is expected to become operational at the same time the metro is completed.