Riding the Red Bus in Bahrain

As most people in Bahrain have realized, we don’t exactly have a reliable public transport system that we can compare to those in other countries. I would say we’ve got an average of 2 cars per household, based on the number plates I see these days around half a million (I’m assuming the numbers are incremented serially) with 20,000 added yearly. Just about every Bahraini above the age of 18 has a license and probably drives a car. We’ve got licensed taxis that sometimes like to rip people off, especially tourists. We’ve got the London cabs. We’ve got the illegal taxis that are basically people driving their own cars with people, for pay (popular with the expats mostly I would say). And we’ve finally got Uber! Then we’ve got the public transport system aka the bus.

We’ve had a series of buses starting with the old reddish brownish sort of bus:

Source: ShowBus
Source: ShowBus

Then came the more modern Marco Polo buses that were operated by Cars that took over the ones above:

Source: Bus-Planet
Source: Bus-Planet

And around the 15th of this month (February 15) the new red bus service started circulating, replacing the previous Cars buses:

Source: Daily Tribune
Source: Daily Tribune

Yesterday morning I decided to take a spin around town in one of the new buses. The buses aren’t circulating at it’s potential just yet, so far there are only a few routes. As a result, I went by car to Manama, parked at Bab Al Bahrain and decided to take the bus from the stop opposite Bab Al Bahrain (at the old post office).

By the time I arrived at the stop the C5 bus that goes from Salmaniya to Budaiya had just left (as scheduled at 8:45am). I was waiting for the C3 bus that goes from Manama towards Juffair (I was going to get off at the stop in Adliya, close to the post office). The bus was scheduled to arrive at 9am, and it did. I paid my 200 Fils for the trip and took my seat. This was officially the first time I ever ride the public transport in Bahrain!

First impressions: The interior looks similar to the buses in London. The seating configurations are different. The aisle is wide. There is an area dedicated to people in wheelchairs. Towards the back of the bus are those more elevated seating. The bus was well ventilated thanks to the air conditioner (it was a cold day this morning, I should try it again once summer hits). There a few CCTV cameras installed, which is a great safety feature. Overall very nice, although the seats were a bit less cushioned than the buses I’ve ridden on in other places.

The next stop coming up was the Manama terminal. The bus stayed at this stop for almost half an hour to pick up additional passengers and for a change in drivers. It was at this stop that I decided to catch up on some stuff on my phone, that was when I noticed my phone notifying me about an open WiFi nearby… Lo and behold, I found out that the bus is equipped with WiFi! Best of all: FREE!


I could see the potential of people easily missing their stop while working on their phones/tablets! I was quite impressed that the bus was equipped with WiFi.

The bus took off, and a few stops later I had finally reached my destination at Adliya. As I headed my way to the other stop on the opposite end I was pondering the idea of taking the bus more often, especially to places in Manama where parking can be hell, and even worse with the new traffic laws.

As I was thinking of all the places I could go on the bus, I realized that my bus had just passed and I was still way behind! I ran towards the stop, and luckily the bus was still there, I’m guessing the driver was waiting for me as he gave me my ticket with a smile.

I hope more people would give the bus a try in Bahrain, especially now.

You can find everything you need to know about the new bus service in Bahrain on the official site including the current and upcoming routes. They also have social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

One thought on “Riding the Red Bus in Bahrain”

Leave a Reply