x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

More bus lanes planned for Dubai

Successful trial run prompts plan to further ease traffic and promote public transit.

DUBAI // Four experimental bus lanes in Dubai have been such a success that more lanes will appear in the central business district by the end of this year.

The locations of the new lanes will be revealed next month. "It is time to go ahead with the next steps," said Essa al Dosari, the chief executive of the Roads and Transport Authority's (RTA) Public Transport Agency.

"I hope in two weeks' time we can announce the next phase of corridors. Our target is mid-October so we can then test it and, if it is feasible, in two or three months we can implement it." The 5.6km of dedicated lanes on Al Mankhool, Al Khaleej, Khalid bin al Waleed and Al Ghubaiba roads have helped to speed traffic movement and slashed travel time, according to 77 per cent of the 1,053 public transport users who participated in a recent RTA study.

A majority of the responding motorists were in favour of more dedicated lanes for buses to cover more streets. "Many more people will go for public transport if it is faster," said Mahesh Sadh, 29, an accounts executive who travels by bus from his home in Bur Dubai to the Khalid bin al Waleed Metro station. "Many of my colleagues don't use public transport because it's too slow. They will definitely get into buses if buses are faster than cars."

Mr Sadh said he had noticed a marked improvement on Al Khaleej Road along a stretch called Computer Road after bus lanes were put in place four months ago. "It has definitely improved congestion. It has eased the traffic on Computer Road because that area has dense traffic," he said. Even a short stretch of bus-only roadway could help to solve a traffic build-up, Mr al Dosari said. That applied particularly to the central business district, where a bus might take as long as 30 minutes to travel just a single kilometre.

"It's not always a two- or three-kilometre priority lane that is the solution," he said. "Sometimes 200 to 300 metres can solve the problem because of junctions and areas with high traffic density." The plan for priority lanes came from a study the RTA undertook four years ago that detailed the number of buses, infrastructure requirements, the roads network and the locations of bus stations. A committee including RTA and Public Transport Agency officials then selected the four streets for the pilot bus lane project based on heavy bus usage and high to medium congestion in the road network.

rtalwar@thenational.ae