Out-of-the-box solution to traffic woes

ABU DHABI — The landscape of public transportation in the Abu Dhabi emirate has completely changed since the Department of Transport (DoT) introduced public buses in July 2008, covering most parts of the emirate, at a ‘supportive’ fixed fare of Dh1 a trip.

By Anwar Ahmad

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Published: Wed 25 Aug 2010, 10:06 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 9:19 AM

Thousands of people ride these buses every day in the emirate — as well as in Al Ain since August 2009 — and till date some six million people have used the public buses.

In the Capital, as many as 85,000-90,000 commuters use the buses every day. A lesser number of residents now commute with taxis whose fare flag fall starts from Dh3.50 a km, which means that if one takes a taxi from Abu Dhabi city centre to Marina Mall, he has to cough out approximately Dh15 depending on the traffic. If the traffic is dense, it could be more with waiting charges. On the other hand, this distancecan be covered in Dh1 only on a bus.

In fact, commuters can cover around 30km distance for Dh1 with these buses in and around the city, which is a truly win-win situation for residents.

In the times of inflation, stagnant wages and slump in the market, buses are indeed proving to be boon for residents, who are increasingly relying on these services to save money.

The growing parking woes have also spurred more residents to keep their vehicles parked and ride on the buses, which are available for all destinations at a high frequency — buses are available every fives minute for various destinations of the city and far-flung suburbs as well.

Congestions on Capital’s roads have reduced remarkably as many commuters have switched to the buss.

The service was initiated in July 2008 with a handful of buses, which have now become the most preferred mode of transportation for residents in the emirate. According to the DoT, there are expected to be 1,360 buses by the end of 2013, and by the first quarter of 2011 the number of bus routes will increase to 60. After seven and a half months of free bus service in the capital, the DoT unveiled the bus fare of Dh1 for a trip in the Abu Dhabi city from February 15, 2009.

Talking to Khaleej Times, Saeed Al Hameli, General Manager, Public Bus Office, DoT, said more buses would be added as required in different regions of the emirate. “We have laid down our plans for it and buses will be added in phases,” he said.

The DoT has successfully reduced the dependence on cars for residents, many of whom have switched to public transport, leading to smooth traffic flow on roads. “We wanted to improve the bus service so as to change the mind-set of people who are very dependable on their own cars,” Al Hameli said.

The official pointed out that by the last quarter of 2011, some 350 buses will be operational in Al Ain ensuring an efficient service throughout the green city. By the end of 2010, the total number of buses in Al Ain will reach up to 134. The total fleet of buses in the capital by the end of 2010 would reach around 860, he added.

Syed Faizan Ahmad, an Abu Dhabi resident, said, “I always use the buses. I think the use of public transport must be encouraged as the buses reduce traffic snarls on roads, which is a big problem now. The bus frequency is good in the city. The buses are good for the environment too, as they take more people reducing carbon dioxide emissions and save energy also.”

Gufran Ahmad, a salesman, said, “We are dependent on public transport. I enjoyed using the free bus service for the past seven months. The fare is very supportive for us as we are low-income people and can’t afford taxis.”

Mohammed Talhah, another resident of the emirate, said, “I have a car. But I often take bus for Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall and other shopping places. The parking problem in Abu Dhabi is growing day by day, so the bus service is an alternative. Dh1 a trip fare is very encouraging, especially as the buses are very comfortable and luxurious,” he said. anwar@khaleejtimes.com

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