Saudi proposes French company to boost its buses

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia has recommended awarding France's state-owned public transport operator a roughly $2.1 billion contract to operate and maintain buses in Riyadh for 10 years.

The Saudi Public Transport Company, or SAPTCO, said in a statement Monday that the kingdom's high committee for supervising the implementation of the public transport project in Riyadh recommended France's RATP Dev for the project.

The kingdom is spending billions of dollars on improving public transportation with plans to build a metro system and increase buses in major cities.

Saudi women activists have long complained that they have to rely on male relatives or hire a driver since females are banned from driving in the kingdom.

Some ultraconservative clerics say the solution is not in allowing women to drive, but in improving the transportation system.

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