ABU DHABI // By next summer commuters waiting for one of the emirate's new fleet of buses will be able to keep their cool in air-conditioned shelters, transport officials promised yesterday. The plan to install the shelters was "based on the direction of his highness Mohamed bin Zayed to cool down summer in Abu Dhabi 2009," said Saeed al Hameli, general manager of bus transportation for the Department of Transport.
In all, 550 bus shelters, some of which will be air-conditioned, will be installed and maintained across the emirate over the next 10 years by Stroer Concept Outdoor, a partnership of the German-based company Stroer Group and Concept Outdoor, a UAE company. The company will spend more than Dh100 million (US$27.2M) on the project, hoping to recoup its investment by selling advertising. In addition to air-conditioning, the shelters would feature displays showing route maps and estimated times of arrival, said Mr Hameli. The shelters would be monitored by security cameras.
Although the final design has not yet been settled, the shelters could incorporate TV screens displaying entertainment and information such as weather updates. Pierre Pereira, CEO of Stroer Concept Outdoor, said he hoped a prototype shelter would be designed by the end of the year. The manufacturing of the shelters would be shared between Germany and Abu Dhabi, said the company. The new bus service, launched on June 30 and running free of charge on four routes on the island until the end of the year, has proved extremely popular. At times, people have been seen trying to push their wayon to buses already packed to their capacity of about 45 passengers.
"People need to understand there is a continuous service," said Mr Hameli, who pointed out that the buses ran every 10 or 20 minutes. Next month, the Department of Transport would introduce more buses to run on six additional routes on Abu Dhabi island, said Mr Hameli. "We are focusing now on Abu Dhabi island to relieve people from searching for parking and to relieve people moving from one point to another."
Residents travelling to the suburbs should also soon notice improvements, he said. The frequency of the service was to be increased on routes to suburbs such as Musaffah and Baniyas and some of the older buses making intercity trips would now call at Marina Mall. The department says the new buses are a short-term solution and by the end of the year will be replaced by higher-quality vehicles. By 2010, there will be 1,360 air-conditioned buses, 37 bus stations and six maintenance depots in the emirate.
Improving the bus service is a first step towards an integrated transport network for the emirate, the details of which are to be set out next February in the department's Surface Transport Master Plan. @Email:email@example.com