Qatar tests out massive bus fleet ahead of World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Qatar has tested out a massive fleet of buses ahead of next month’s World Cup, when an estimated 1.2 million soccer fans will descend on the small Gulf nation, an official said Tuesday.

Thani Al Zarraa, who is overseeing transport preparations, said some 4,000 buses will be used during the monthlong tournament, which begins Nov. 20. That includes 3,000 buses acquired for the World Cup on top of a pre-existing fleet of around 1,000, he said.

Of the new buses, around 700 will be electric, he told The Associated Press. Fans can also use Qatar’s Metro rail system.

The bus fleet will shuttle passengers between main transport hubs and the eight stadiums where the matches will be held. Authorities held tests over the weekend involving some 1,800 buses without passengers.

Transport will be free for holders of the Hayya card issued by the government, which is required for entry to stadiums. An accompanying app has a feature in which fans can plan their journeys.

All visitors to Qatar, even those not planning to attend the matches, will need a Hayya card to enter the country from Nov. 1 to Jan. 23. Cardholders will also be able to enter the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

This will be the first World Cup hosted by an Arab or Muslim nation. Qatar, a small emirate in the Persian Gulf, is among the wealthiest countries on earth thanks to its massive natural gas reserves.