Motorists in Abu Dhabi said their journey times doubled yesterday morning as the school year commenced and thousands took to the roads.
Hana Yazbek, a business development manager at the Higher Colleges of Technology, said her usual 25-minute commute took 40 minutes, from her home in Mangrove Village to her office near Hazaa Bin Zayed the First Street.
"I could've reached Dubai in that time," she said.
Traffic police did not release the number of vehicles on the roads yesterday morning.
Mona Ahmad, a housewife and mother of two, said roads in Khalidiya were gridlocked around 7.30am, when she was dropping off her children at the American Community School.
"The trip normally takes me 10 minutes, but today it took me about 25," she said. "The light would change from red to green and the traffic would remain at a standstill. There were no accidents, but there was clearly an issue with congestion."
A main problem, Ms Ahmad said, was school buses that disrupted traffic by stopping in the middle of the road to pick up passengers.
"It's dangerous for both the children and the drivers," she said. "Buses need to have designated lanes and stops."
Road transport authorities acknowledge the need for special lanes. The Department of Transport announced in June that the busiest areas of the city would soon receive about 50km of dedicated bus lanes. Work will begin this month and is expected to finish by the end of next year.
Lt Col Jamal Al Ameri, head of public relations at the Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrols Directorate, said that no traffic accidents were reported yesterday morning and that conditions on the roads were normal.
No problems were reported in Sharjah where police had increased patrols.