ABU DHABI // Thousands of people are being questioned about their travel habits in a comprehensive survey that will help planners to shape the capital's future transport networks. Surveyors commissioned by the Department of Transport have been knocking on doors, stopping motorists at petrol stations and questioning shoppers at malls and passengers at airports in the largest survey of its kind undertaken in the emirate. The survey, being conducted until next month, will question 13,000 people about what types of trips they are making, why they are making them and what form of transport they use. Using the information, a new computer model will be developed to forecast demand for transport in the future and allow planners to determine what investment is needed to keep Abu Dhabi moving. The new model, to be completed by next summer, will help planners to refine the emirate's surface transport master plan, the basics of which were laid out for the public last month. A detailed report for the 20-year plan, including five-year action plans, is expected to be made public soon. The plan calls for an integrated public transport system featuring buses, light rail, metro, high-speed regional rail and water taxis over the next 20 years. The department expects 35 per cent of the population to use public transport by 2030 and aims to achieve that goal by having some form of public transport available no more than a five-minute walk away from every resident. It also intends to introduce measures such as road tolls to discourage the use of private cars. Lim Eng Hwa, a traffic and transport planning manager for Hyder Consulting, said the survey, which started in mid-April, was necessary for the transport department to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the new traffic model. "Abu Dhabi has been undergoing such tremendous economic growth and development in the past five to six years that the survey is likely to invalidate previous findings," he said. The new data would give a more accurate picture of travel requirements in the emirate today and help planners forecast demand in the future, he added. Forecasts for travel demand used when creating the transport master plan were based on a model created for Abu Dhabi Municipality in 2003 and updated in 2006. The current survey will allow planners to refine that model and make any necessary adjustments to the master plan. Three thousand of the surveys will be conducted in homes, and the department is asking for personal information it says will help it relate the types of trips a household makes to the size of the household. Private information will not be shared with any other government department, the transport department says. Bus passengers and workers living in labour camps have also been surveyed and some taxi drivers have been keeping records of all their day's journeys. Freight traffic has also been surveyed in industrial areas. The department is already moving ahead with some parts of the surface transport master plan, calling for bids from consultants to complete a feasibility study for the proposed 130km metro network. Those bids are due by Wednesday and the study is to start in August. The reports and working papers from the surveys and study will be made available on the department's website, www.transportabudhabi.ae email@example.com
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