Watch: Tram in Abu Dhabi? New rail-less trains ply on streets in UAE capital

Three-carriage, air-conditioned transport makes designated stops on popular Abu Dhabi routes and can accommodate up to 200 passengers


Ashwani Kumar

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Photos: Ashwani Kumar
Photos: Ashwani Kumar

Published: Mon 9 Oct 2023, 10:26 AM

Last updated: Wed 15 Nov 2023, 4:55 PM

Have you seen the modern and sleek Automated Rapid Transit (ART) service introduced on the streets of Abu Dhabi City? This past weekend, residents in the Capital witnessed the introduction of this cutting-edge service. This three-carriage, air-conditioned electric vehicle now makes designated stops on popular routes and chimes as the driver waits for passengers to hop on for a ride.

ART service, the rail-less vehicle usually described as a combination of a bus and a tram, bears the Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) markings of the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT). It was first introduced on Yas Island and Saadiyat Island and has now started serving the mainland. In what is expected to be the new phase of Abu Dhabi’s futuristic smart mobility project, the ARTs are operating between Reem Mall and Marina Mall via Zayed the First Street, fondly known as Electra Street. Currently, the eco-friendly, emission-free service ply in the city on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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200 passengers capacity

The innovative electric vehicles can accommodate up to 200 passengers, enhancing sustainable mobility in the city. The seating arrangements are similar to what has been seen in Dubai Metro, with plush seats, straps for standing passengers, panoramic windows, and digital notification of stops. It seamlessly shifts lanes, just like a regular public transport bus.

In some places, there are dedicated slots for ARTs to stop; in others, it halts at the regular public bus stations. The stops have been marked with stickers on the pavement.

A livery of an ART was also seen on a bus stop aimed at creating awareness among commuters about the latest smart mobility offering in the city.

The improved rapid transport system operating without a mass transport train system or rails is a great addition to easing urban travel. It comes just ahead of a busy season when the Capital is set to host more than 150 events – the number which is going to get better with each passing month.

Innovative, emission-free service

Community members are pleasantly surprised to find a Dubai tram-like vehicle operating in Abu Dhabi City but without any specific tracks or infrastructure changes to the streets.

“This is really a surprise. I have been seeing it for the past few days. It’s sort of a cross between a bus, tram, and train or a metro. I have seen it mostly operating during morning and afternoon hours,” said Patrick Ohana, a long-time resident.

Residents lauded the service, which coincides with celebrations of the ‘Year of Sustainability’ in the UAE.

“I had seen one of these on Yas Island. It’s exciting to see tram-like electric buses with zero emissions on the mainland. I travelled on it to Marina Mall this Saturday. Such a service is an amazing solution to peak-time rush seen in public transport buses,” said Vibhor Gupta, a marketing executive.

Essentially, trackless trams on wheels, these ARTs currently connect Reem Mall and Marina Mall through popular destinations like the Galleria Al Maryah Island, Marina Square, Sheikh Hazza Bin Sultan Mosque, the iconic Qasr Al Hosn, Khalidiya Park, the Abu Dhabi Energy Centre, Sheikha Fatima Park, Corniche, hospitals like NMC Specialty and LLH, and hotels like City Seasons Al Hamra, Sheraton Al Khalidiya and Rixos Marina Abu Dhabi.

The first trip from Reem Mall starts at 10 am, and the last one is by 2 pm, and service from Marina Mall begins at 11 am, and the final trip is by 3 pm. The live timings can be tracked through Google Maps and the official app Darbi on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Commuters can also scan the QR code on the ARTs and those posted at some of the bus stops, to know further details and updates about the service, timings, and new destinations.


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