By Manal Ismail www.thenational.ae
ABU DHABI // Almost 50 kilometres of bus lanes are to be introduced on three of the capital’s busiest roads. Work will begin in the next three months and is expected to be completed by next year.
The 46km of lanes for buses only will comprise 2km on each side of Bainunah Street between Corniche Road and Hazaa bin Zayed the First Street; about 11km on each side of Hamdan Street from Al Salam Street to Airport Road; and about 10km on each side of Sheikh Zayed the First Street between Al Salam Street and 32nd Street.
The choices were based on the results of a study that assessed traffic conditions for the past year and took into account expected traffic growth in the next four years, officials from the Department of Transport said.
The bus lanes, which will be marked with special paint on the road, are expected to cut bus journey times by up to 15 minutes, and preliminary results from the study show that the impact on other traffic is expected to be minimal.
The lanes on Hamdan and Zayed the First Streets will be incorporated into the existing roads, but those on Bainunah Street are part of a larger Dh700 million project to improve traffic infrastructure in the Ras Al Akhdar area.
Two roundabouts in front of the Emirates Palace hotel are being replaced with traffic-light junctions and two tunnels, one leading to Eithad Towers and the other to 32nd Street.
Work also began at the start of the year on installing an additional 380 air-conditioned bus shelters. There are currently 81 on Airport Road, Muroor Road, 6th Street, Al Falah Street and 24th Street.
The DoT plans to more than double its fleet of buses from 600 to 1,360 by 2013. New buses will be equipped to handle wheelchairs and will have dedicated ladies’ sections.
By December, buses will be running on 123 routes in the emirate, up from 75 at the end of last year. This includes 70 additional stops in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region. The new stops will be 300 metres apart.
The investment in the expansion of the bus network is part of the DoT’s Surface Transport Master Plan, a long-term strategy intended to persuade residents out of private vehicles and on to public transport.