Public buses in Abu Dhabi are now equipped with free Wi-Fi for all passengers.
Launched on Sunday by the city's Integrated Transport Centre, a total of 520 buses across the emirate will offer free internet to passengers.
The free access, provided through du telecoms, will be rolled out across 10 buses initially. All buses providing the service will bear a large sticker of the Wi-Fi symbol.
“We have chosen these 10 buses first as they have a high ridership number along their dedicated routes,” Ali Al Juaidi, acting director of technical infrastructure at ITC said.
“Offering this add-on service will allow people to go about their daily tasks more conveniently, while on-board public transport.”
To operate the service, bus passengers have to choose the ‘UAE Wi-Fi by du’ option on their device. Users then need to provide a phone number and email address before receiving a one-time passcode via text to ensure security when connecting online. The same process will have to be repeated for each new login.
The Wi-Fi service will also be available at all the main bus stations in Abu Dhabi as well as across all air-conditioned bus shelters in the city.
All buses, shelters and stations will be fully-equipped with Wi-Fi by the end of March 2020. Passengers have been encouraged to check the ITC and Department of Transport's social media pages for updates related to the roll-out schedule.
Currently, the service is available on 10 buses which serve three of the city’s most popular passenger routes including route 43, which connects Corniche Hospital to Al Mushrif Mall; route 41 connecting Corniche Hospital to Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre; and Route A1 connecting Abu Dhabi Airport City Terminal to Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Residents have welcomed the move, saying it is cost effective and a good distraction on long bus journeys.
"I take a two-hour round trip bus ride from the city to the Mussaffah area six days a week for work, so the option of having free Wi-Fi is really good for me," Christina Parajas, 32, said.
"I'm actually studying too so I can do lots of university work on the journey, without eating up my own phone data."
Dendi Sherpa, 28, said it will make his daily commute a lot more enjoyable.
"Now I can video call my family back home while travelling to work, it's a really good move," he said.
Working at a gas station near Etihad Plaza, Mr Sherpa said he usually travels an average of eight hours a week on a bus, from the Corniche area, to work.
"If I don't have data on my phone the journey can be very boring.
"This is definitely an improvement for passengers and I'm happy to say the Wi-Fi is already connected on one of the buses I take regularly in the city."
Speaking to The National, Mr Al Juaidi said the introduction of free Wi-Fi on public buses has been timed ahead of the activation of the new Abu Dhabi road tolls, to encourage passengers to opt for public transport over personal means.
“Our main objective is to have better public transport in the city.
"This is just one step among a number of add-on services being introduced to make commutes more comfortable for passengers,” he said.
“In the coming months we will be introducing extra buses serving additional routes too.
“By introducing road tolls, expanding public transport offerings and improving on-board services on buses, for example, residents and visitors will be more inclined to choose public transport.”
Find free Wi-Fi on these Abu Dhabi bus routes
Route 43: Corniche Hospital to Al Mushrif Mall via Corniche Street, Electra Street, Qasr Al Hosn, Airport Road, Al Falah Street, Al Karama, Airport Road, and Mushrif
Route 41: Corniche Hospital to Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center via Hamdan Street, Airport Road, the Pepsi Factory, and the Zayed Military Hospital
Route A1: Abu Dhabi Airport City Terminal to Abu Dhabi International Airport