Jeddah commuters fume over ‘nasty’ bus drivers
The absence of local bus stops and shelters in the city has become a cause for frequent altercations between passengers and drivers fighting over a drop or pick up point.
A passenger was bruised in a brawl with a hafila (minibus) driver in the Balad district on Monday morning when he refused to board a bus after hailing it as it was not heading toward his destination.
The incident happened when the passenger hailed a bus and asked the driver if it was going his way. When the driver replied in the negative, the passenger refused to board the bus. This was followed with the driver angrily shouting at the passenger for stopping the vehicle in the middle of the road when he had no intention of boarding it.
The argument turned into a full-fledged fight with the driver forcing the passenger to get on the bus ending with the latter getting hurt. However, witnesses said that the incident was not reported to police.
Mohammed Bajaber, who was at the scene, said that the driver was fuming at the passenger’s refusal to get on the bus after he had stopped it. “Most bus drivers are uncivil and often bad tempered,” he added.
Several residents said that these incidences are commonplace and complained of the poor condition of the public transportation in the Kingdom. “Although the bus ticket costs a mere SR2, the journey can be a matter of life and death. The drivers are ill-mannered and drive dangerously,” Abdel Hamid said, adding that they often try to weave between traffic posing a danger to other road users.
He also cited an incident where the bus driver spat on a passenger for asking too many questions.
“It is a cheaper alternative to the taxi which costs much more. This is why the bus drivers take advantage of the passengers who are mostly bachelors. Such incidents go unreported because the law is not applied in cases of crimes where weapons are not involved,” Yousef Abdi, another resident said, adding that most passengers have been bullied by the bus drivers at some point.
Abdi said that there are loopholes in the city’s public transportation system which allows these kinds of incidents to flourish.
However, a general decline has been witnessed in the number of bus users while several residents have urged the government to restore a civilized and cheap mode of transportation in the city.