Living in Doha but working in Ras Laffan, I have to commute Doha – Ras Laffan v.v. in daily basis. Ras Laffan is about 70-80km from Doha (or 76.4 km precisely from my house in Al Gharafa – near Al Shamal Bridge to Qatargas Gate). Depending on the transportation mode, that 76km can be reached around one hour for northern Doha or 1.5 hours for south or central Doha.
There are at least three transportation modes that I can use for commuting to Ras Laffan:
1. Use my own car. This is my least preferred method. I don’t like driving for commuting for reasons: reduce my stamina for work or after-office-hours activities, add mileage to my car, and does not allow me to have a morning reading of newspaper or workstuff on the way home, or doesn’t allow me to make up my sleep. However, in some circumtances, I use my own car for commuting such as if there is a planned prolonged meeting beyond bus schedule, or If I have a plan to go somewhere directly from work after office hours. Fortunately, these are not so many. It may be less than thrice a month.
Using my own car, I can travel for commuting for less than one hour (usually about 50-55 minutes one way, normal speed) benefited from its location at the northern Doha.
2. Use car pooling, join with friend’s car. I frequently join with my friend for back home from Ras Laffan. This gives a shorter commuting time whilst be able to exchange discussion.
3. Use shuttle bus. For safety reasons, Qatargas – despite giving transportation allowance – provides shuttle buses from employee’s compounds for their commuting. Big buses (i.e. 35-45 seats) or mini buses (i.e. 20 seats) are used depending on number of employees on the respective compounds.
I can opt to use my compound buses or other buses if I miss one. There are several shuttle buses available. Normally one bus serves two or more compound. For example, a big bus from Karwa starts from Doha Garden and neighborhood compounds (Beverly Hills 6 and Les Roses 1) in Al Waab Street then goes to Al Wadi Compound in Al Gharafa area. Another big bus serving Tatwer Complex (temporary accommodation) to 7 Pearl (also temporary accommodation or permanent accommodation for single) then goes to GEneral Post Office to pick up any employees who live outside QG compounds. Another big bus serves Al Handasa complex, and General Post Office. Also a mini bus from Al Khor Community is available.
As for my Al Faisalya compound, a mini bus serving Al Faisalya, then to Al Sadd Residence and to Regency Apartments can be used.
There are also some minibuses which serve shift employees to different plants.
A big bus is of course preferable than a mini bus for its comfortness. In my case, I can opt to use a big bus from Al Wadi for commuting. This requires a drop and pick up service (normally done by my wife 🙂 ) from Al Faisalya and Al Wadi which are separated 2 km only. Not a problem for the shake of comfortness.
My compound shuttle bus usually picks up at 5.45 – 5.50 am! (for 7.30 am work start) and drops back at 4.40 pm (for work ended at 3.30 pm). As for the Al Wadi big bus: 06.15 am and 4.40 pm.
Taking shuttle bus is my preferred mode of commuting for reasons opposite to #1 above.
4. Hybrid mode. Any combinations above. My most preferred mode is taking Al Wadi bus and back with direct bus to Al Faisalya.
How far is far
76km one way seems so far for commuting at the first time. But as I have been travelling it for the last 10 months, it’s now a piece of cake. In fact, one hour travel time is passed so quickly. It (in the case of shuttle bus) offers some benefits such as making up sleep, catching up material for a meeting, update news through reading, or chatting with friends.
Sleeping is the most common activity I can observe in shuttle bus, followed by listening to the music, chatting, and then reading (not many people are able to read while travelling).
A trip to Ras Laffan from Doha will use Al Khor Highway – a 30-km or so highway with two lanes on each way. Finishing the highway we will pass Al Khor town before making a left turn to Ras Laffan at the roundabout before Al Khor Hospital. From here we travel 5.5 km to Fish Roundabout for a right turn to Ras Laffan City road. A driving of 13-km down the road will lead you to Ras Laffan Industrial City security gate. From this gate is 9 km to Qatargas Gate.
An alternative route is available via Al Shamal Road (about the same distance from my compound) with meeting point to the previous route in Fish Roundabout. This route might offer a shorter driving duration (due to not passing any towns), however, Al Shamal Road is now under massive renovation upgrade and therefore presents unpleasant driving journey and risks.
Which mode do you prefer?
Update 12 Jan 2010
Starting 6 Dec 2009, no minibus to Al Faisalya Gardens 1, Al Sadd Residence & Regency. Al Faisalya Gardens 1 is now served by the same bus that serves Beverly Hills/Les Roses & Al Wadi. Pickup time is 6.15 AM at Al Faisalya. Al Sadd Residence is served by the same bus as Tatweer, 7 Pearl & GPO. Whereas Regency Apartment is served by the same bus as Al Handasa, La Rose de Sable & GPO.
To me this new arrangement is the best commuting solution so far. No need to travel to nearby compound, using very comfort bus, and get a second drop after Al Wadi on the way home.