Dubai buses may be privatised

An official says the RTA wants to get the public transport system right before any decisions are made on its future.

RTA - Dubai Bus, in Oud Metha, Dubai, UAE, on March 8, 2009. *** Local Caption ***  marin_rta_10.jpg marin_rta_10.jpg
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DUBAI // Transport chiefs are considering privatising Dubai's public bus system. Mohammed al Hashimi, the director of the planning and business development department at the Roads and Transport Authority's (RTA) public transport agency, said privatising the bus network was under review. Mr al Hashimi said the RTA wanted to get the public transport system correct before any decisions were made. The main objective of the RTA according to Mr al Hashimi was first to provide a service for the city.

"We have to set our targets and objectives and [know] what we exactly need from this. If it [privatising] is serving the future of Dubai and its needs we will go for it, and if not we should be careful of it," he said. The RTA estimate its fleet of 1,800 buses will make 4.5 million trips along 140 routes carrying 109.5 million passengers this year. By the end of 2010, there will be 2,100 buses in service across the city, said Mr al Hashimi. They will carry more than 120 million passengers in that year.

He said the RTA had conducted a study on the number of buses required for the city and used European cities as a benchmark. "We also had our own model [study] and we don't need additional buses. By 2020, the population will be around 3.5 million people, and 2,100 buses is a good number to serve this." The RTA has previously opted to allow private firms to run transport services. There are five private taxi operators in Dubai that are regulated by the RTA.

The air conditioned bus shelters are run in a public-private partnership. The RTA owns the land but the shelters are being built and operated by private companies.