Living in Kuwait
Transportation in Kuwait
Kuwait City has no shortage of transportation options whether for tourists or corporate travellers. Kuwait has a well-developed road system, although there are no trains, and public transport is limited to buses and taxis. Plans are on to build a railway system in future, but, buses, cars or taxis are the only means of common public transport available in Kuwait at present.
A rapid transit system serving the coastal corridor with direct access into Kuwait City using fixed track vehicles or automated buses may be created soon. A proposed GCC-Railway with terminals in Shuwaikh and Shuaiba is also on the agenda. Plans are also on to include passenger ferries linking the City to Faylaka Island, and to mainland Subiya and Bubiyan Island, apart from a bridge linking Shuwaikh to Subiya.
Getting around Kuwait is easy, provided you know your way, and the whole of Metropolitan Area, which is laid out in a conical grid-like pattern of main roads, feeder roads and local roads. Further, most road signs are in English and Arabic, although there are no signs posted in many streets. However, traffic is a major problem here, as the vehicle numbers on the roads are growing by the year, and the government is seriously addressing this issue by improving the roads and developing transport links to include a rapid transit system along the coast.
Public Bus Service
The local bus system in Kuwait is cheap and extensive, but, is rather designed for convenience of local residents than tourists. Therefore, the routes usually do not often coincide with places of tourist interest. But, a 10-minute walk either side of the bus stop is not a problem. You can pick up a bus timetable from the main bus station in the city centre.
The two state-owned public bus companies are KPTC (Kuwait Public Transport Company) and the City Bus. Their routes cover most of the densely populated areas in Kuwait. Buses in Kuwait are generally safe and reliable, and run approximately every ten minutes. They are air-conditioned, with fares of approximately 200 fils per ride, depending on distance travelled. The front seats in a bus are usually reserved for women.
The Kuwait Public Transport Company (KPTC) has a monopoly over public bus services. It boasts about a more reliable transportation network throughout the country, offering most economical means of moving around Kuwait. It has more than 30 routes in operation, and covers the Metropolitan Area. It offers more than 400 buses, both ordinary and air-conditioned buses. There are season tickets available for frequent travellers from main bus stations. KPTC also operates international bus services to cities like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Cairo and special tours to Mecca. For details, visit www.kptc.com.kw.
The City Bus Company enables transportation services round the clock. The company has developed a well-advanced transportation network stretching throughout Kuwait. The buses deployed are modern, air-conditioned and equipped with entertainment amenities that ensure passengers enjoyment when travelling. The buses are all linked through a wireless tracking and communication system. For more information, visit http://www.transportkuwait.com/.
Private Bus Service
One of the popular and major private companies offering bus transportation services in Kuwait is the Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport company (KGL TC). It specializes in transporting individuals, bulk liquids, manufactured goods, chemicals, petroleum products, raw materials and several other products and equipment.
The company also comprises buses, equipped with modern means of comfort and entertainment. The fleet includes trucks, tankers and refrigerated trailers, driven by a team of professional drivers. All buses and trucks are linked through a tracking and communication system. For details, visit the company website http://www.kgl.com/
Taxi / Cab Hiring
Instead of purchasing or renting a car, majority of expatriates depend on taxis for getting around on daily basis. In Kuwait, taxis are reliable, and prices are usually reasonable. Once you get to know a driver, you can also contact him personally when calling a taxi.
The hire rates are sometimes a combination of time and distance, with first 150km of the day free. The charges are based on 24 hours a day and hourly charges for excess hours. Special weekend rates are also available. Insurance may also be included in the hire rates.
Usually, taxis in Kuwait do not use taximeters. A fare is usually agreed before getting onto a taxi. Most taxi companies have zone-based fares. There are also several unofficial taxis roaming the streets of Kuwait. But, their fares are not subject to any regulation, and hence it is better to avoid them.
There are several types of taxis – call taxis, wanettes, and orange cabs. The call taxis are radio controlled with 24-hour cabs which can be booked through a telephone call to the company’s office. The fares are distance-based, which can get expensive when trips extend across the area boundaries. Fares are also considerably high at night times.
Orange cabs are of two types. The first type will operate from ranks where they pick-up several passengers going to a particular area, and then follow set routes. The orange cabs also operate from outside the main hotels and the airport, where they can be hired without sharing. The fares are negotiable.
The Wanettes (pick-up trucks) with red number plates are authorized to transport goods and to carry passengers accompanying goods.
The vehicle number plates are coloured white on private cars, blue on government vehicles, reddish orange on commercial vehicles and sort of dun colour on military vehicles.
There are plenty of car hire firms in Kuwait. To rent a car, several expats take advantage of the cheap gas prices in Kuwait, which would be exceptionally expensive back in their home countries. Most cars are equipped with heavy duty transmission, a large radiator and powerful air-conditioning system.
Although Kuwait has well-developed infrastructure that suits infrastructure of urban expressways, the traffic can get heavy during peak hours, and accident rates are comparatively high.
Expatriates, on their first arrival in Kuwait, may drive a car in Kuwait using an International Driving Permit. When a new Kuwaiti civil ID has been issued, they are required to acquire a local driver’s license.
A GCC national can drive a car in Kuwait with his home country license. However, non-GCC nationals cannot drive on a GCC license. An expatriate on a visit visa can drive only on an international driving license within the stipulated validity period of his visa. Only foreign nationals with residence permits can drive on a Kuwaiti license.
Those using an international license will have to validate their license through local insurance company. If you have an International Driving Permit (IDP), or a license and residence permit from another Gulf country, driving in Kuwait is possible, without any further paperwork for the duration of your visa.
However, with the rules constantly changing, it is better to check with the officials for latest procedures.
The Kuwait International Airport is located in Farwaniyah, about 16.5km from the centre of Kuwait City. Those arriving in Kuwait by air will land at the Kuwait International Airport, the only airport in the country. Kuwait International Airport is considered one of the safest airports in the world and is the only civilian airport in the country.
Kuwait Airways, the national carrier of Kuwait operates flights from here to several destinations including Western Europe and across the Atlantic to New York City. There is also the regional discount carrier Jazeera Airways, while many also prefer to fly with United Airlines or Thai airways.
The airport has two terminals, the Old Terminal One, used for short-haul passenger flights and freight with nearby cargo handling amenities, and the Terminal two which is the main passenger terminal. Built in the shape of an aeroplane, all long distance flights depart and arrive here. It includes all necessary passenger amenities including automatic baggage handling, bank, post office, restaurants, buffets, hotel reservations, airline ticketing, Mosque, shops, express courier centre, transit hotel, duty-free area and a transit zone. The airport also includes shops, car park, restaurants, airline offices, and more.
For transportation from the airport, there are the airport taxis and airport limousine services. Airport Taxis are white and green in colour, and have fixed fares printed in the window of the car for all areas of Kuwait. The taxi rank is on the left when you come out of the airport arrivals hall.
Airport Limousine service can offer transport from the airport to anywhere you wish to go to in Kuwait. You may contact them at their hotline 1802202 to book the service. However, they are more expensive than the normal airport taxis.
Kuwait Public Transport Company not only offers bus services, but also offer ferry services daily. The ferries usually operate from Kuwait City to Failaka Island. For schedules, check with KPTC by calling 25742664.
The Kuwait-Iran Shipping Company has scheduled ferries to and from Iran, wherein ferries go thrice a week from Shuwaikh Port in Kuwait to Bushehr in Iran.
There is also a ferry network that connects Kuwait with other nations in the Gulf. Ash Shuwaik and Kuwait City are two busiest ports, with ferries frequently shuttling to Iran and Bahrain. For shipping and speedboat services, the city travel agents can be contacted.
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