Saudi Arabia: Busses of Olaya

A perhaps little know piece of Riyadh history is what I will refer to as the “Busses of Olaya.”  These busses are (now) small  antiquated coasters which provide inexpensive public transport in Riyadh primarily in the area of the City Centre and Butha.  The service was started more than 30 years ago and has been provided to Riyadh residents and visitors for two generations.  The busses are recognized by their predominantly white color with red and blue stripes.  The back end of the bus will depict a small sign indicating its route.  These busses are not air conditioned and do not look as if they would be heated during the cooler winter months either.  Most of these busses are derelict and in very poor condition.  The reason for this is that the government is no longer maintaining the busses believing them to be obsolete and having served their purpose.  As these busses deteriorate beyond repair they are being retired.  Two years ago during a special Ramadan show there was a story (Nahee show) about these busses.  Nahee, a Saudi bedu, was a driver of one of these busses.


It is sad to know that this niche of Riyadh history will soon disappear.  I attempted to do google searches about these busses but was unable to find any substantive information.  The references to busses and Riyadh all lead to links about SAPTCO (Saudi Arabian Public Transportation Company) which has modern day busses that provide transport around the Kingdom.    The only brief mention was via


Flat-fare minibuses (SR 3) rumble the streets of Riyadh, but these are mostly used by laborers. They are quite difficult for the casual visitor to use: there are no posted stops, and routes are usually written only in Arabic. Most routes converge on al-Bathaa, and the adventurous visitor can try his luck on route 9, which runs from al-Bathaa up Olaya Road.


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