ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Saudi Arabia 2017 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Khaled Bin Abdullah Al Hogail, CEO & Managing Director of the Saudi Public Transport Company (SAPTCO), on the importance of strong and rational regulations, knowledge transfers, and unifying public and private transportation networks.

Khaled Bin Abdullah Al Hogail
BIOGRAPHY
Khaled Bin Abdullah Al Hogail is the CEO & Managing Director of SAPTCO. He has a degree in civil engineering. He is the Chairman of the Board of the Saudi French Public Transport Company (PTC), the Saudi Emirates Integrated Transport Company (SEITCO), and the International Association for Public Transport for the Middle East and North Africa. He is also the Vice Chairman of the International Association for Public Transport (UITP) and the Arab Union for Land Transport Board.

How have the reforms being implemented impacted your business?

We are witnessing a big opportunity coming within Vision 2030 and are enthusiastic about it. Today, the challenge is to be prepared for the future and to invest. SAPTCO will be one of those that does. This is what drives us to restructure our organization to be more flexible and provide autonomy to our business units. In addition, the company is moving toward a customer-centric model to utilize its strong customer base. SAPTCO is optimistic about the future of the transportation sector in the Kingdom. A strong and independent regulator, the Public Transport Authority (PTA), was recently set up in our sector. As a large company we prefer an organized market. This is part of the reason we have restructured ourselves in order to focus on our lines of business.

How has your mandate expanded and diversified over the years?

SAPTCO was established in 1979, since when we have had one focus: linking the 382 cities and villages of this country within a single unified bus transportation network. Since 2008, we have spent 10 years building for the future to ensure more diversity, lines of business, and modes of transportation. In 2010, we established a luxury limo line of business, a cargo and logistics business, and the metro and railway. Today all these services are becoming integrated. We are now preparing to move into new areas. We are building new platforms with partners, setting up new companies, such as in education, where in partnership with Emirate Transport we established the Saudi Emirate Integrated Transportation Company (SEITCO) to serve the education sector. For three years our services have been used to transport 250,000 students all around the country. Another key piece of our strategy is the PTC Saudi-French Public Transport Company, which we formed with our French partner RATP. Together we won the contract to build the bus network for the King Abdulaziz project for Riyadh Public Transport, which will start operating in mid-2019. This is a massive network and is hugely important to the future of the city. We are also in the bidding process for operating and maintaining the Riyadh Metro, a completely new line of business for us. This is based on our partnership with the leader of driverless RATP.

Can you tell us about the deal you recently closed for 1,000 new buses?

Some of these new buses will be produced by Mercedes and some by MAN. This is the single-largest deal in history for Mercedes worldwide. Also, SAPTCO is one of the largest clients for Mercedes worldwide, which reflects the size and importance of the work we do. We operate more than 330 million km per year, which greatly reflects this story of why we are the largest Mercedes client worldwide to sign the largest single deal in its history. It also indicates how committed we are to quality. Mercedes make some of the best buses in the world.

What are your expectations for the next 12 months?

Development cannot take place properly in unorganized markets; it is impossible to deliver the quality people seek without rules and regulations, and a large company cannot make big investments while competing with small businesses or individuals with a completely different model. If we seek superior quality, the market must be organized. The establishment of PTA will definitely benefit us. Only those who pursue quality can exist in the market. For the next 12 months, our goals are to translate what we heard about the vision into reality. This next year should entail a great deal of work building the bridge from strategic to implementation. This is what we are working toward.