Faced with a difficult bus situation, students turn to alternative transport on campus


Illustration by Adam Abougad
Illustration by Adam Abougad


Several students in Education City have started using personal bicycles to travel around the campus, instead of using Qatar Foundation’s bus shuttle service, which they say is inefficient.

“The bus schedule is messed up. I have a class at 8:30 in the morning and it happened twice that there were no buses,” said Sulaiman Mahmood, a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q). “Both times, I had to go with other students in their cars.”

Mahmood is one of many students who have recently purchased a bicycle for on-campus travel.

Mahmood works as a front desk assistant in the residence halls so he has work shifts at both the Janoubi and Shamali housing complexes. Because no buses were available, he was late for work three times in one week.

“With my bicycle, I don’t rely on the buses anymore and I haven’t been late for class or (my work) shift,” Mahmood added.

“It is a quick solution if I need to go to the university or somewhere else when no transportation is available,” said Maher Khan, a CMU-Q sophomore who has also switched to biking. “This time of the year, I am using it like twice a week but hopefully, [I will use it] more as the weather improves.”

Students have been facing increasing issues with the bus shuttle service since male and female residence halls were separated in the new academic year. According to many male students, the Janoubi male housing complex is not only far from their universities, but they need to wait even longer now for the buses to show up.

Faizan Shakir, a community development advisor (CDA) at Janoubi, said that he missed a class because the buses didn’t show up on time.

“I came down early because I knew the buses are often late, but that day the buses didn’t show up for literally fifty minutes,” said Shakir. “A bus came after about half an hour, but before I could catch it, it went around (the drop-off lane) and left quickly.”

Many students expressed similar concerns about buses not staying long enough to let all the students come out of the building to board.

“I was at Georgetown and saw a bus going around (the entrance roundabout). We started running toward it and the security guard even whistled, but it went away,” said Anzish Mirza, a freshman at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q).

“We have asked all the drivers to wait for 30 seconds outside each building,” said Lubino Soares, transport supervisor at Qatar Foundation. “If the students don’t come out during that time, there is nothing the drivers can do.”

The Student Government Association at Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Qatar (GSFS-Q) is currently trying to get a separate bus for Georgetown students, to prevent the long wait their students often face, due to their isolated campus.

“It’s more challenging for GU students to go back and forth from the dorms at night. That’s why we support [the request for] another bus,” said Tayreem Asghar, the public relations officer for GSFS-Q’s student government.

Asghar said that an additional bus is not in the capacity of university’s budget presently, but if funding gets available, GSFS-Q’s night shuttle, which currently runs from 7pm to 2am, can be made available for the entire day.

Students also say that most of the buses are always at Shamali and very few come to the Janoubi housing complex.

“Whenever I go to Shamali, I always see the buses parked there and usually there is more than one bus,” Shakir said. “The buses going to Janoubi also stop at Shamali and pick and drop students from there, but the Shamali buses don’t come to Janoubi unless requested by the students.”

Soares said the buses designated for Shamali don’t go to Janoubi because it is really not on their route. However, the Janoubi buses must go to the Virginia Commonwealth and LAS buildings, so they pass by Shamali too. Otherwise, Janoubi and Shamali each have three designated buses, Soares added.

“Last year, the transportation system performance was very poor. When we moved to Janoubi, it became two different routes (due to two housing complexes) and it became worse,” said Zehni Khairullah, a community development advisor. “As students, we appreciate the drivers and their long hours and hard work, but we also need to get to classes on time.”

According to Soares, when students cannot wait for their respective dorm bus, they ask the available bus to change its route, which disrupts the bus schedule.

“There are positives and negatives of everything, and we want to ensure smooth running [of the transport system], but we also want the students to cooperate and not ask the drivers to change their routes,” Soares said.


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