91% of UAE commuters use cars

Higher gas prices and the increasing reach of public transit have not tempted drivers, who cite convenience and accessibility.

Commuters across the country are unwilling to give up their cars in favour of public transport despite a huge investment in the sector, a survey reveals. Some 91 per cent of UAE residents prefer to use private transport to travel to work every day with 79 per cent using their cars and 12 per cent going by taxi, according to a survey by Regus, a global serviced offices company. Separately, commuters said they used public transport when they had to but they would rather use private transport.

"You need to have a bit of control in your commute to make it convenient and there is not much of that with public transportation," said Ahmad Hussain, a Dubai resident who, with his brother and sister, shares a car to work in the Jebel Ali Free Zone. Youseph Karmali, a Sharjah resident who works in Dubai, said the public transport network was not widespread enough to convince him to leave his car at home.

"Public transportation stations are far from many residential areas and even offices. And when it is hot like this, it is inconvenient," he said. "But on weekends and holidays I enjoy riding in public transport, especially on the Metro in Dubai." The survey results showed 9 per cent of UAE workers spent more than three hours a day commuting to and from work over a five-day working week. That is better than the global average where 20 per cent of workers commute for more than three hours.

Data from the Dubai Statistics Centre show 136,862 Dubai residents, or more than 10 per cent of the population, worked at least 28km from home. On average, the survey revealed UAE workers spent 4 per cent of their annual salaries on commuting, above the 3.3 per average per cent global spend. "With 2010's second rise in petrol costs taking effect in July and as traffic congestion in cities increases, it is disappointing to see that too many workers are still jamming the roads in the rush hour when they could be spending their time more enjoyably or more productively elsewhere," said Mark Dixon, the chief executive of Regus.

About 25 per cent of those surveyed said a lengthy, stressful commute to work was one of the factors that might compel them to quit their job. @Email:business@thenational.ae