So – getting around Doha has been quite the learning experience. The city’s population is now pegged at 2.2 million. Last month, 6,500 cars alone were added to the roads. The city has no civic address structure, but does have districts and street names. Just no house or building numbers. The roads appear to be built for a city of about 300,000 – 500,000. Roads are jammed. And the price of gas is so ridiculously low (around $0.25/litre). that the incentive to share rides, car pool or use public transit (there is none, but an LRT-type system is being developed in anticipation of World Cup 2022) just doesn’t exist. And, because of the price of gas, there is no reason to buy or drive small, fuel-efficient cars. So, Land Rovers, Toyota Prados/Land Cruisers and Mitsubishi Pajeros seem to be the vehicle of choice. Fuel –efficiency as a concept does not exist here.
Work days are usually pretty easy. Our employer (the College of the North Atlantic-Qatar) operates nice air-conditioned buses that run about every hour in the mornings and then again in the afternoons.
The buses pick up and drop off at all the various accommodation locations throughout the city and take us straight to work. It’s just like riding public transit – the drivers are fantastic and we just sit back and relax, read, chat, list to podcasts or sleep. Many employers here provide transportation for their employees – either by providing buses like ours, or giving staff transportation allowances. We however (at CAN-Q), are among the fortunate. Everyday we see buses full of labourers or service industry staff (all ex-pats like ourselves) sharing the roads side by side with our bus…and the buses have no air conditioning. The seats are plastic or even vinyl covered. The buses are crowded. Yet, these buses are better than the buses they had in their home countries of India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines (amongst others).
Here’s a 2013 demographic survey of Qatar that gives you an idea of Qatar’s explosive population growth. http://www.bqdoha.com/2013/12/population-qatar
Translate that to vehicles on the road and you have road chaos!
Given the choice of taking a bus or driving on congested roads with drivers who seem to have their own rules, I’ll take the bus any day.