x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

At bus stops, the heat is still on

Only five of the 550-planned air-conditioned bus shelters have been switched on, according to an official at the Department of Transport's bus office.

Not all bus shelters have air conditioning.
Not all bus shelters have air conditioning.

ABU DHABI // A year after the first air-conditioned bus shelter opened in the capital, most passengers still have to put up with the heat. Seventy of a planned 550 air-conditioned shelters have been built on Abu Dhabi island. However, only five have been switched on, according to an official at the Department of Transport's bus office. That has left many passengers, such as Praveen KC, feeling hot and tired by the time their bus arrives. "I was just thinking, why is the bus shelter not working properly?" said the 30-year-old sales officer from India, who travels by bus daily to meet clients. "I think in Dubai it works.

He added: "The service is fine. I think most people would prefer the bus, but when they need to reach the bus service and they are waiting, it is so humid. "You cannot stand inside because inside is too humid. You will sweat if you stand inside." The Department of Transport's public relations office said it could not comment immediately. But some relief for passengers may be on the way. The bus office official said the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company had provided work orders to turn on the air conditioning at another nine shelters by next month.

"They have started to give orders to their contractors," he said. It had taken a while, initially, to get the permits for the shelters, the official added. "They have started understanding these [shelters] and, inshallah, you will see these shelters coming up more and more by the middle of August," he said. When the first shelter was officially opened on July 1, 2009, it was running on generator power because utility companies had not yet connected the shelters directly to a power source.

The department said at the time that 550 shelters would be operating by the first quarter of 2011. Each shelter is supposed to keep a constant temperature of 22°C. At one functioning shelter across the road from Al Wahda Mall, the air conditioning makes it slightly more comfortable inside, but it heats up when people open the doors. Some passengers, such as Mohamed Badnra, from Syria, prefer standing behind the shelters, in the shade. The 25-year-old salesman, who works at Marina Mall, said the lack of air conditioned shelters could be compounded by crowding on the sometimes sweltering buses.

"Sometimes, you enter inside, oh, you are dying," he said. mchung@thenational.ae