Spain’s Ineco has begun developing a strategic plan for the public transport system in Oman following the completion of the sultanate’s transport master plan in 2015.

“The goal over the next few years is to consolidate a reliable and modern public transport system, which is environmentally-friendly and equipped with smart technologies… that contributes the socioeconomic development of Oman,” Ineco said.

Ineco, in cooperation with Grupo Ruiz, also of Spain, has drafted a strategic bus transport plan for Mwasalat (formerly Oman National Transport Company).

The strategy involves gradually implementing new routes and the construction of a reserved platform for buses in the capital Muscat as well as in other cities such as Sohar and Salalah, as well as the extension of the current interurban transport network.

An infrastructure investment programme for bus stations, workshops and parking areas has also been put in place.

The first phase of Mwasalat’s strategic plan involves the deployment of 40 urban buses in Muscat since November 2015.

The low-floor buses have an air conditioning system, extendable ramps for wheel chairs and passenger-information systems.

Another 10 buses, designed for long distances, have also begun to provide interurban services, specifically between Dubai and Salalah, among other destinations, Ineco said.

Apart from recommending the establishment of a Public Transport Authority (PTA), the advanced phases of the master plan include the deployment of a bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail transit (LRT) and public maritime services.

Oman’s population as of 2015 ranges between 3.8 million, according to IMF data, and 4.3 million, according to other internal sources. The population is concentrated in the major urban centres including in the capital Muscat, as well as Sohar in the north and Salalah in the south. All three are considered port cities.

Proving a more efficient public transport system for passengers and commodities in the form of buses and the planned domestic railway is key to Oman’s plan to boost its tourism and logistics output in line with its long-term economic diversification programme.