By Ola Salem www.thenational.ae
The number of bus routes operating in the emirate will nearly double by the end of the year, transport officials said yesterday.
“The first three years were like an engagement phase, a phase of getting the system started and people familiar to the system,” said Saeed al Hameli, the general manager of bus transportation at the Department of Transport. “Now we will work in improving and increasing the system.”
The new routes will include the Tourist Club City Air terminal, Al Makaziyah Khalifa – the area behind the central Corniche – and Yas Island South.
Routes will also go to universities and souqs, to ease congestion and help students and shoppers.
Musaffah bus station will soon be linked with the Shahama souq and by October, there will be two separate bus lines from Khalifa Street to Abu Dhabi University, and Khalifa University, both just across the Musaffah bridge from Abu Dhabi Island.
In the eastern part of the emirate, there will be more links between Al Yaher and Al Hayer and surrounding cities.
A route starting this month will go between Sha’aibah, south of the Maqam and Al Hili souq, while others will go north from Al Ain’s bus station to Al Yaher souq to the north, Sweihan souq, and Al Faqa al Jadeeda. By October there will be buses to Shuaib souq, north of Al Hayer souq on the Al Ain-Dubai highway, and Al Wagan souq and Al Qa’a souq near Jabel Hafeet.
In al Gharbia there will be more links between Ruwais and Mirfa and surrounding areas. A new route will link the Ruwais Adnoc bus station and Bida Al Mutawa school, around 60km to the south.
Mr al Hameli said the number of passenger journeys has risen steadily as more routes have been added, reaching 15.2 million in the first three months of this year, up a third on the same period last year.
About 38,000 passengers a day travel on the 34 routes in operation. Al Ain’s 10 routes carry an average of 30,000 passengers a day.
“At this rate there will be 74 million passenger trips by the end of the year, a huge increase from last year,” he said. “Today, what buses need is to be better. Abu Dhabi is under constant improvement, our services need to be too.”
Further refinements in the pipeline include a new stop on the route between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The only Dubai stop currently is at Bur Dubai, making the service far less attractive to residents at the Jebel Ali end of the city. Mr al Hemeli said a stop would be added near Jebel Ali, although he would not say where, only saying he wanted that to be “a surprise”.
Drivers will also be instructed to drive more strictly to their allotted routes. One in particular, the 402 to Al Wathba, tends to stray from the roads it is supposed to take.
“The bus was stopping outside near the mosque because inside the villa area there are a lot of bumps on the road and a lot of children playing on the street, so for that reason the bus would stop outside,” Mr al Hemeli said. “But by June the problem will be resolved.”
Mr al Hemeli said that with the extra buses the average waiting time should shorten. The average now is between seven and 10 minutes.
Aisha Abdullah, a 24-year-old Emirati from Al Yaher, said the extra routes in her area would allow her to dispense with her driver.
“For the past four years at UAE University, I used to have to wait for the driver to come every day,” she said. “A bus would be a much cheaper option.”
At present all short bus trips cost Dh1, with day passes available for Dh3.