x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Drivers look forward to new bus lanes

Drivers are looking forward to dedicated bus lanes that are being installed on some of the capital's busiest roads.

ABU DHABI // Commuters are looking forward to dedicated bus lanes, but many also have suggestions on how to further improve public transit in the capital.

"I can't count the number of times I'll be driving behind a bus, it suddenly stops, and I have to force my way into the [neighbouring] lane, nearly colliding into the car beside me," said Omar Ahmad, a computer technician from Syria. "And most of the time the bus stops aren't even large enough to accommodate the size of the buses."

According to the Department of Transport, Abu Dhabi city will be getting nearly 50km of bus lanes on some of its busiest roads. Construction is set to begin in the next three months and the lanes are to be completed by next year.

Meanwhile, bus passengers are looking forward to the additional 280 air-conditioned bus shelters across the emirate.

As Dario Montefalco, 32, waited near an air-conditioned bus-shelter on Airport Road, he said the new shelters were "a great initiative by the Government."

The Ford car mechanic from the Philippines always relies on the shelters to keep him cool during his waits for the bus home.

"This is especially great for the country's many expats and workers, who always ride the bus," he said.

Although passengers expressed satisfaction with the public bus service, they said there was room for improvement.

Maricel Balictar, a Filipina nurse at the Abu Dhabi Medical Center who commutes by bus about 10 times a week, said: "Sometimes there are too many men who are also sitting in the ladies' section at the front of the bus."

She also complained about waiting time. "Sometimes you have to wait more than 45 minutes for a bus. So if I had to make an added suggestion, it would be to have more buses."

With plans to double its fleet to 1,360 and run 123 routes by December, the Department of Transport just might coax residents out of their private vehicles.

For Wafa Hussein, a housewife who struggles to find a parking space every morning after finishing her grocery shopping, public transport could be a viable alternative. "If public buses really do become easily accessible with air-conditioned shelters at every corner, maybe, just maybe, I would consider giving up my car."