x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

RTA apologises for bus driver's BlackBerry bungle

The Roads and Transport Authority has promised serious consequences for a bus driver who texted for most of the trip between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

A photo submitted by a concerned passenger, who did not wish to be identified. She says her bus driver texted while driving for most of the trip from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.
A photo submitted by a concerned passenger, who did not wish to be identified. She says her bus driver texted while driving for most of the trip from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.

DUBAI // A bus driver who spent "most of the trip" texting on his BlackBerry is in hot water after a concerned commuter snapped pictures of him typing at the steering wheel.

The driver was hurtling down the motorway between the capital and Dubai, doing around 120 kph, when a passenger took photographs of him steering with his elbows while typing on his phone.

"He started using it when we got out of Abu Dhabi city and didn't stop until we reached Jebel Ali," said the passenger, who did not want to be named.

"I thought, 'this is very dangerous; you are responsible for people's lives'."

Concerned for her safety and that of her fellow passengers, the woman decided to note down his Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) license number and take pictures, which she then forwarded to The National.

Furat Ali Al Ameri, the director of Franchising and Enforcement Department at the RTA's Public Transport Agency, called the passenger personally and noted her concerns after The National forwarded her complaint to them.

"I assured her that this is not something the RTA condones. We share her concern in this matter and we're taking steps to make sure that it doesn't happen again on any bus."

Mr Al Ameri said they had sent out an interdepartmental circular informing their employees that mobile phones are not to be used during working hours, especially not while driving, and asked inspectors to keep an eye out for such behaviour.

"I don't think city bus drivers would ever do this, as their routes are too short and they are too busy. But I can see how an intercity driver could find the time," he said.

"In any case, we are informing all our drivers about the severity of this action. This is not something we are taking lightly."

The passenger said she had not tried telling the driver to stop, as the rules on RTA buses state that passengers are not allowed to speak to the driver.

"I don't have any intention for this man to lose his job," she said. "Maybe he is a good driver, but this must be a lesson to all drivers to drive safely for the benefit of all - passengers, drivers, and other motorists.

"My complaint is intended as a public service: I'm concerned about safety here. I'm a driver too and I know how dangerous it can be on the road, especially when people are not paying attention."

After speaking with Mr Al Ameri, she said: "I'm confident the RTA will handle this matter swiftly, and I'm very satisfied with their services."

Mr Al Ameri added the RTA is always happy to hear people's concerns and opinions, and residents should share them with the RTA through their hotline, 8009090.

malkhan@thenational.ae