Dozens of environmentally friendly buses will be introduced to Abu Dhabi’s public transport network in October, days before toll gates go live across the emirate.
The 40 minibuses will take to the roads as authorities aim to more than double the number of people using public transport, from 4 per cent to 11 per cent of the emirate’s population.
With a capacity of 25 passengers, the minibuses will increase connectivity by serving smaller communities and running along new routes, which will be determined by the Integrated Transport Centre after traffic patterns have been studied.
“We have noticed that in some local communities it is difficult for big buses to enter, and sometimes you find only one or two passengers in a very spacious bus, so we introduced those smaller buses,” said Ateeq Al Mazrouei, operations director of public transport at ITC.
“The buses will also travel from point A to point B faster because they are smaller in size,” he said.
The Sprinter buses operate on an engine known as Euro 6, which emits less carbon monoxide than standard models.
“That will definitely make a big difference with regards to air pollution,” Mr Al Mazrouei said.
By introducing the buses on October 11, four days before the toll gates open, ITC aims to increase options for residents seeking to avoid paying the Dh4 toll. It is part of a larger plan to add 327 buses, at a cost of Dh473 million, to Abu Dhabi’s fleet by 2023.
“We will also increase the number of daily services offered, as 147 bus trips will be added to the bus network on the main bridges connecting [the UAE mainland] to Abu Dhabi Island,” Mr Al Mazrouei said.
“Of these additional bus trips, 124 were added during peak hours, which will make travelling by public transport easier.”
ITC plans to introduce 20 more buses to Al Ain this year.
“This new convenience will help reduce the number of private vehicles entering Abu Dhabi City and reduce traffic congestion,” Mr Al Mazrouei said.
Abiola Olapade, from Nigeria, takes the bus to work every day. He lives in a residential area off Muroor Road which he says is not currently served by buses.
“I have to walk for 10 minutes to the bus stop, even though we have a main road in front of the residential area but no bus stops there,” said the senior barista, 32.
“In Muroor, all the bus stops have been placed near the traffic lights. There are no stops near the residential areas. So hopefully, the new buses will pass through the residential areas.”
Mr Olapade has a 15-minute walk from his workplace in Al Maqtaa to the nearest bus stop to catch a ride back home.
“There are bus stops here in Al Maqtaa, but none of them take us to the city. We take bus 54, which passes right in front of the cafe but doesn’t stop,” he said.
“We have to walk all the way to the highway and cross the pedestrian underpass, and then walk for four more minutes to reach the stop.”
His colleague Anil Cherial said the smaller buses would be beneficial in Mussafah.
“From here [Al Maqtaa] to Shaabiya it takes 10 minutes by taxi, but by bus, it takes two hours,” said the Indian waiter, 28, who uses the bus daily.
“The buses are very big and they cause a lot of traffic.
“Also they have too many stops. If more buses are added there they will have less stops per bus, and if they are smaller they will reach [their destination] faster,” he said.
“For us, it would be very convenient to live in Mussafah, but it takes too long to come to work by bus.”
Mr Cherial He lives in the Tourist Club district, and the commute between his home and workplace in Al Maqtaa takes about an hour.
“A smaller bus will make the trip faster, I believe,” he said.