Mwasalat, Oman’s National Transport Company, operates the state’s bus services offering City and Intercity services. Mwasalat covers main cities such Muscat and the popular touristic destination of Salalah, in addition to planning an introduction for other main cities. Mwasalat Intercity services also deliver a regular bus service between most visited cities within Oman, such as Muscat to Salalah, Nizwa, Sohar and other cities. Carrying a total of 1.5 million passengers with a fleet of 164 vehicles each year, the buses are clean, efficient and used by citizens and tourists alike.
Taxis in Oman are marked distinctively in orange and white stripes. While a pricier option to the bus, their shared taxis offer cheaper alternatives. Alternatively, small vans also serve as shared transport for short hauls and they charge per stop-over point just like city bus services.
The need to improve the bus services in Oman was recognised as an important aspect of economic growth and development. For this reason, Mwasalat wishes to become a world-class bus transport operator and provide an efficient bus service that is modern and competitive on a national and international level1.
WHAT WAS IMPLEMENTED?
In cooperation with LIT Transit, a Ridango Group company and NEC Corporation, Mwasalat launched a multimodal application in December 2021 as part of a larger national ticketing and AVM project in the Sultanate of Oman including 175 vehicles. The project included the provision of an account-based ticketing solution, AVM solution and multimodal application for passengers.
The application connects three modes of transport: City buses, intercity buses and airport shuttle services on a national level for a seamless travel experience across the entire country. Apart from a multimodal journey planner, the application provides a centralised “one-stop-shop” for all tickets.
MAAS TICKETING AND PAYMENT SOLUTION
- Ticketing: Account-based ticketing
- Fare policy: Flat, zonal, station-to-station
- Attractive lower fares through the use of mobile app compared to the normal on-bus sale.
- Purchase options (gateways): Local debit cards, international credit cards, mobile providers account payments (Pre-paid and Post-paid) and payments through main bus stations
- Trip payment options:
- E-wallet: trip payment with stored value
- Purchased fare item
The MaaS application, ticketing service and mobile ticketing backend were provided in collaboration with LIT Transit, a Ridango Group company.
THE CURRENT SITUATION
While there were certain obstacles:
- Revision of existing fare models to match account-based ticketing
- Introduction of new business processes (e.g., inspection)
- Introduction of new payment channels
- Extension of passenger interaction through mobile application
Overall, the MaaS application encouraged the use of public transport, helped to reduce congestion in cities and provided localised (decentralised) transport services on a regional scale. Users not only benefit from easier travel experiences but, with concessions, benefit also from cheaper services for beneficiaries e.g., special fare prices.
Mwasalat found that a centrally managed system on a national level is cost-effective due to service optimisation and performance monitoring. They can forecast future service demand requirements. Because of the success, the following steps for Mwasalat are:
- Encouraging further utilization of the new technology through targeted marketing campaigns through various channels
- Introduction of period passes
- Upgrade of intercity bookings
- Integration with other payment wallet providers and self-service city utility kiosk providers
- Introduction of contactless EMV payments