Abu Dhabi steps up water transport plans

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By Samir Salama  www.zawya.com

Ferries and water taxis are planned to transport more than 1.5 per cent of the total 3.8 million commuters per day in Abu Dhabi by 2030, transport officials said yesterday.

Abu Dhabi water transportThe service is meant to link the capital with some of the 200 islands of Abu Dhabi in the coming two decades.

Car and passenger ferry services between the mainland and Delma Island started in March last year. In a year of operations, the service has transported more than 85,000 passengers and 20,000 cars.

Master plan

The Department of Transport’s new Water Transport Master Plan (WTMP) covers all waterways, routes and islands in the emirate to ensure that transportation infrastructure meets its growing needs for such services over the coming two decades.

The Department of Transport (DoT) has just completed a comprehensive water transport feasibility study in Abu Dhabi which included the identification and assessment of all aspects required for a modern water transport system, including suitable routes, vessels, terminals, operations, maintenance facilities and associated infrastructure, a spokesman for the department said.

Abu Dhabi has approximately 200 islands varying in size, geography and location. The emirate is currently developing Al Saadiyat, Yas, and Delma to be cultural, tourist, business and community hubs.

Water transport will include water taxis accommodating up to 12 passengers, and ferries with up to 100 passengers on board.

According to plans, initial routes will begin along the Corniche going to Reem Island in late 2013. Routes will later extend to Yas, Al Raha and Saadiyat islands.

The study highlighted water transport as a viable alternative system for Abu Dhabi given its low operational cost compared to other transport modes, high degree of flexibility, and maximum appeal to tourists, coupled with the emirate’s geography.

The study estimated daily ferry users to reach 58,000, or 1.5 per cent of the total 3.815 million daily commuters, by 2030, in addition to another 7,000 of the anticipated 31,000 tourists expected in Abu Dhabi every day.

The Water Transport Master Plan makes a structured analysis of the developments required to provide the necessary infrastructure requirements and breaks them down into progressive stages: a short-term option for up to two years utilising existing facilities and potential new shuttle services while building further facilities fast; a medium-term option of two to ten years to extend lines and terminals to provide connectivity and amend services and frequencies accordingly.

The long-term option (more than ten years) includes further extension of lines and terminals and providing additional capacity as demand for the service grows.

Practical component

The study concluded that water transport services are a feasible and practical component of the Abu Dhabi Surface Transport Master Plan (STMP), while adding further to the amenities of the emirate in line with Plan Abu Dhabi 2030.

Water-borne transport is also extremely energy-efficient and sustainable, thus supporting “Estidama”, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council’s (UPC) sustainability initiative.

In undertaking the feasibility study, the DoT held various workshops, meetings and brainstorming sessions with its key stakeholders: UPC, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC), Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA), Western Region Development Council (WRDC), as well as real estate development companies.

Committed to the future

As Abu Dhabi continues to grow and develop, transport infrastructure has become a key issue and one that affects people on a daily basis. A significant aspect of Abu Dhabi’s growth has been the development of many of the emirate’s islands, which are now being developed as economic, cultural, social and tourism destinations.

The Department of Transport is exploring the option of utilising the sea as a resource for a water transport system, which can be integrated into existing and future public transport network plans.

With the launch of its Economic Plan 2030, Abu Dhabi’s government set out a strategic framework for the diversification of the emirate’s economy, which would establish Abu Dhabi as a progressive and desirable international destination. The Department of Transport is committed to ensuring that these ambitious plans are supported through the implementation of integrated and multi-mode transportation facilities, which are safe, reliable, and efficient.

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