x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dh135m bus service expansion for Sharjah

800 air conditioned bus shelters will be built and 700 new taxis will be deployed.

SHARJAH // A Dh135million project to build hundreds of air conditioned bus stops was announced by transport bosses yesterday.

Eight new stations would also be erected and 700 extra taxis put on the roads.

The project, unveiled by the Sharjah Transport Corporation (STC), will see 800 fully cooled bus shelters built across the emirate.

The stops, similar to those in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, will be a welcome relief to commuters who currently have to wait out in the open.

The announcement has been a long-time coming for the many people who regularly use public transport in Sharjah and have to walk long distances to get a bus.

"Walking to find a bus stop is a hassle as these stops are far apart, but the biggest hassle is waiting out in the open with temperatures so high," said Muzamil Abdul Hameed, who regularly catches a bus near the Sharjah clock tower.

The air-conditioned shelters, which will cost Dh33 million to build and install, will be positioned closer together along routes.

Abdullah Mohammed Al Zarri, the director general of STC, said the project would improve accessibility for all passengers.

"Once completed, commuters will no longer have to take taxis to go to the main bus station in Al Jubail or the airport to take a bus," he added. "We are also constructing eight bus stations in different parts of the emirate at a cost of Dh55 million."

These will be Taawun, Khor Fakkan, Muweilleh, Sajja, Al Wasit, Al Rafah, industrial area 5 and Al Leyyah.

"The stations are distributed in different areas to enable commuters easy accessibility to public buses," said Mr Al Zarri.

The corporation currently has 102 buses operating 12 routes around the emirate.

Mr Al Zarri said the STC was also increasing the number of places where commuters could buy tickets to travel to neighbouring emirates. These will include Sharjah Airport, where passengers can board the number 116 bus to Fujairah and the central regions.

The station in Hamriya will also run the number 115 service to Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain.

Mr Al Zarri expects the new stations and shelters to be completed by the end of this year.

A fleet of 700 new taxis is due on the roads around the emirate in the near future. Bought at a cost of Dh47 million, the cars boost the STC's number of cabs to 5,000.

Fifty six of the cars will be sent to Khor Fakkan and Kalba, with 10 to central regions in areas such as Al Dhaid to help cope with the demand for services. The rest will be based in and around Sharjah city.

To gauge quick feedback from customers, the STC has now launched its own Facebook and Twitter pages.

ykakande@thenational.ae