ABU DHABI // Sixty per cent of public transport users prefer taxis to public buses, according to a survey released by the Department of Transport (DoT) today.
The study surveyed about 3,000 respondents of different ages, genders, nationalities and backgrounds living in Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain and the Western Region.
A majority of respondents who said they prefer taxis said it was because taxis provided faster services. Nearly 40 per cent of respondents said they commute by taxi because they do not have drivers' licences. Only 8 per cent of respondents said the bus was a reliable method of transport.
Hala Mohammed, an Abu Dhabi resident from Lebanon, said she preferred taxis for the convenience.
"I don't feel safe in a bus; most passengers are usually men," she said. "The stops are far and it's too hot to walk to the stations. If I'm going to take a taxi to the bus stop, I might as well continue with it to my destination."
However, Ms Mohammed added, the taxi experience was often not as pleasant as she would like. Often the vehicles have a "funny odour", and drivers are not familiar with all destinations.
Overall, however, about three-quarters of respondents said they were satisfied with bus services and nearly one-third said they take the bus because they do not own a car.
A majority of respondents called for more bus stops and routes to the Western Region, and a need for regular, punctual schedules.
The DoT recently announced plans to nearly double bus routes by the end of the year and expand the bus fleet from 600 to 1,360 by 2013. Old buses will be replaced by buses that are special-needs friendly and have dedicated ladies' sections. Planned routes will ensure that bus stops are only 300 metres apart, and dedicated bus lanes, which will ease traffic flow and congestion, will be installed in the emirate by next year.
By December, buses will be running on 123 routes, up from 75 at the end of last year. Seventy additional stops in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region will be added by June and 10 more by 2013. Currently, there are about 10 million passenger trips per month and the DoT wants to increase this by 30 per cent.
A vehicle replacement programme is also scheduled for next year for 8,000 TransAd taxis across six franchises. Drivers will undertake training and on-road inspectors will monitor taxi activity.
The survey is part of the DoT's efforts to identify strengths and weaknesses and passenger preferences, with the objective of providing safe and convenient methods of public transport and reducing commuters' reliance on private vehicles.