Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Why more people should get on the bus between Dubai and Abu Dhabi

The chairs have a portable phone charger embedded within, so by the time I arrive at the Dubai World Trade Centre, I am charged up and ready for my day

The Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station on Sultan Bin Zayed the First Street. Victor Besa / The National 
The Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station on Sultan Bin Zayed the First Street. Victor Besa / The National 

When Abu Dhabi government officials announced that motorists will have to pay road toll charges from October 15, it caused a flurry of conversations among some residents about its ramifications.

But really, that was the point; in addition to using the revenue to fund further infrastructure projects across the capital, and lessening traffic congestion on the main freeways, the initiative is meant to make us re-evaluate how we move around the city.

I am already seeing more thought put towards this: carpooling has become a trend among some mates. One of them, Mehdi, recently told me how he joined a group of three colleagues in making their way to the office each morning. “It made me more of a morning person because you are chatting and joking around,” he told me. “By the time I get to work, I am feeling more positive. It’s good to start the day by not just talking about money.”

Why the bus is often the better option

These new road charges have once again confirmed that a bus to Dubai is often a better option than driving. It still astounds me that, until this day, the bus service is viewed with derision by some residents. I am putting this down to innocent ignorance, as I fail to see a downside.

For one thing, the numbers don’t lie. A bus to Dubai is Dh25. This is compared to the minimum Dh280 price tag you would need to shell out if you are going by taxi or in an Uber/Careem. I find that near Dh255 difference tough to reconcile, no matter how good your financial situation is.

Secondly, from the moment you purchase your fare at the Abu Dhabi architectural treasure that is the lime green Al Wahda bus terminal to the drive itself, the whole process is smooth and ­stress-free.

The bus – a big coach – leaves ­approximately every 15 ­minutes and the seats are comfortable. If you are a woman, you have dedicated seats in the first half of the bus, while the fellas have plenty to pick from the back.

I thoroughly enjoyed my recent trip, which lasted roughly two hours. It was enough for me to see the last two episodes of the Netflix drama Narcos that I had uploaded on my phone earlier that day.

Best of all, the chairs have a portable phone charger embedded within, so by the time I arrived at the Dubai World Trade Centre (the other two stops are Ibn Battuta Mall and Al Ghubaiba in Bur Dubai), I was charged up and ready for my day.

While returning to Abu Dhabi could be considered tricky – you can only catch the bus from Al Ghubaiba or Ibn Battuta Mall – it was a relief not to worry about finding parking or unknowingly getting snapped by eagle-eyed speed cameras on Sheikh Zayed Road.

More importantly, thanks to conversations I have with fellow passengers and being able to see different parts of the city while on the road, these bus trips make my UAE life feel more integrated. It makes me fully vested in my life abroad.

I now plan to share this love by taking Mehdi on the bus this weekend.

Updated: September 5, 2019 04:54 PM

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