Male, the island capital of the Maldives, an archipelago of over 1000 islands in the Indian Ocean faces chronic traffic congestion. This 2 sq km island is home to over 100,000 people. There is a taxi service comprising of around 450 vehicles and a dhoni (ferry) service amounting to over 100 vessels to neighbouring islands. Male, which is fast becoming a small urban centre faces typical peak period traffic issues. The vehicle fleet is dominated by motor cycles which still contribute to traffic congestion in narrow streets. The taxi system which comprises of individually owned taxis registered with a ‘call centre’, provide limited services but fails during peak demand periods especially on rainy days. There is very little coordination between the ferry and taxi services.
The paper is based on the results of a detailed urban transport planning study carried out in Male Urban Area which included passenger interviews, vehicle counts and travel time surveys covering all modes of motorized and non-motorized travel.
This paper investigates the introduction of a mini-bus transport system that would provide easy transfers between ferries and major traffic generators and attractors. The contribution of a mini-bus service in the long-term is also discussed with respect to implementation of traffic demand management measures. This paper discuses the most appropriate type of vehicle that could be used and the potential framework for ownership and management of such a system taking in to consideration the multi-modal
connectivity and also the service parameters for the operation of a successful minibus service.
The paper also analyses the present operation of the ferry services and investigates its ownership and operation parameters for efficiency and cost effectiveness. The paper reports reasons for the varied efficiencies seen on the different routes and the impact the informal and loosely regulated service providers have on the key performance indicators of these services. It also compares cost between different ferry services and studies the relationship between the ownership structure, technology levels, productivity and fare.