ABU DHABI // Drive less, use public transport more and road congestion will be a thing of the past.
That was the message from transport chiefs on Monday as they outlined schemes to build up the bus network in Abu Dhabi.
The Government has invested in alternatives to driving, now it is up to the public to use them and help to ease road congestion, said Saeed Al Hameli, the Department of Transport’s organisation development director.
“It requires commitment from the new generation to increase the public transport share,” he said.
“It is not all about getting people out of their cars, but promoting more sustainable transport options that would be safer, comfortable and flexible.
“The Government expects the public to appreciate its investments and use them. If one has three cars, one can consider it as a personal commitment to reduce it to one car.”
The transport network is being overhauled, with plans including high-speed passenger and freight railways, a metro and a network of light-rail lines and buses. There are now 80 bus routes in the emirate.
“Abu Dhabi needs the fundamental infrastructure, and it’s not only about building roads and fences to encourage more people to use public transport,” said Mohammed Al Otaiba, general manager of the department’s bus division.
“Some of the initiatives could be providing more bus routes, increasing frequencies and building more bus lanes.
“We are now finalising regulations on the use of bus lanes in the city. We have a bus lane in Baynunah and drivers have started respecting it.”
The department will build a Dh175 million bus depot to accommodate 480 buses, providing fuel, washing and maintenance. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.
“For public transport to be successful, a mobility policy that combines clever choices of private cars and public transport should be developed,” said Arno Kerkhof, senior bus manager of UITP, the International Association of Public Transport in Brussels.
Options include park-and-ride services, car-pooling and company buses.
Cities can also introduce higher parking fees, a congestion charge and a number-coding scheme to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads.
“For instance, vehicles with licence plates ending in ‘1’ would not be allowed on the roads on a certain day of the week,” Mr Kerkhof said.
Bus schemes outlined at the UITP Mena bus seminar on Monday included rapid transit in the city, metro and feeder buses, and buses that use natural gas and other alternative fuels.