x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Commuters feel the heat in shelters with no AC

As the summer heats up, some Dubai commuters are still faced with bus shelters that have no air conditioning.

One of the few air conditioned bus shelters still working, on Meydan Road.
One of the few air conditioned bus shelters still working, on Meydan Road.

DUBAI // Commuters are seeing red as the sweltering summer heat kicks in and air-conditioned bus shelters are out of order,

Transport chiefs blame passengers for leaving the doors open, which causes the system to fail. Passengers, however, say the sliding doors are automatic, and thus nearly impossible to leave open.

Baha Al Qedrah, director of buildings and facilities at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said when the shelter's doors are left open, the compressor for the air conditioners has to work overtime and will overheat. The problem has been persistent since the shelters were introduced in 2009.

"Most of the time due to the doors being left open the thermostat trips, leading to short circuit," Mr Al Qedrah said.

In 2009 the RTA ran an education campaign telling passengers to shut the doors.

Of the city's 900 air-conditioned shelters, 100 are not working. The RTA is working towards a 100 per cent success rate, but did not give a deadline.

In 2006, Right Angle Media won the Dh17.5 million-a-year contract to build the shelters and run them for 10 years. The contract included Dh3.5m a year for maintenance. The company told The National in 2009: "Extreme outside temperatures can cause technical difficulties at some shelters, causing the air conditioners to trip at intervals."

But the RTA's promise to solve the problem does not ease the discomfort of commuters.

"I hate waiting for buses here," said Farad Ahmed, 28, a building maintenance worker from Pakistan, as he tried to escape the heat in the shadow of the shelter.

"Now there is little shade but luckily I don't have to travel too much during the day. Usually I get the metro but I have to get the bus into Bur Dubai to meet a friend today.

"I'm in no rush so the bus is good because it will drop me off exactly where I want. If I walked down to the metro station it would mean walking in the sun, which is worse than standing in this bit of shade."

This shelter does not get as much use as some, but "there are some busy ones which has made a lot of people angry", he said. "The doors close automatically behind you so I can't see how people leave them open unless they stand in the doorway waiting for the bus."

Those able to find a working shelter can relax in cool, 23°C temperatures while waiting for the bus to come when summer highs hit 50°C.

"There are some that don't work but the ones I use usually are not a problem," said Venkat Ramasamy, 32, from India.

He takes the bus daily to Beach Road, where he works as an ophthalmologist.

"There are some areas where they don't work, but luckily they fixed the ones on my route," he said.

A bus driver said there were some areas with no working shelters. Al Gubaiba bus station, for example, has no air-conditioned shelters for the 15 routes that start there.

As the summer approaches, Mr Ahmed said he expected conditions to get more uncomfortable.

"Those who drive don't care because they have air conditioning. We have to get around the city for work and to live and some of are not lucky enough to be close to the metro," he said.