x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Impatience tests bus shelters

Air-conditioning is under strain as doors at the new bus stops break down after people try to force them open.

A commuter waits for his bus at a non-functioning air-conditioned bus stop on Airport Road.
A commuter waits for his bus at a non-functioning air-conditioned bus stop on Airport Road.

ABU DHABI // The capital's new air-conditioned bus shelters are proving too popular for their own good as impatient commuters reportedly force open the automatic doors instead of using the buttons provided, causing them to malfunction.

"Some of the people are misusing how to open this door. Before it was fine," said Rodel Inntia, 35, the manager of a restaurant in the Tourist Club area, on Monday after pushing open the doors of a damaged shelter on Fourth Street near Al Falah Plaza. Yesterday, however, the door of that shelter was functioning properly again. A Department of Transport source confirmed that people had been observed opening the sliding doors incorrectly since the first shelter opened on July 1.

Messages in English, telling people to press the button, had been attached to the shelters with working air conditioning. Each shelter is supposed to keep a constant temperature of 22C. There are two door-opening buttons on the outside and two more inside that slide the doors open when pushed. The doors close automatically. At one shelter on Fourth Street, between Hazza bin Zayed Street and Al Falah near an Adnoc service station, the doors continually open and shut of their own accord.

The temperature recorded with a thermometer inside that shelter yesterday afternoon was hotter (45C) than that recorded outside (42C). "Maybe others don't know how to read English, they keep on pushing [the doors], opening it with their hands," said a Filipino commuter waiting in the shelter near Al Falah Plaza, where the temperature inside was slightly cooler than that outside. At the stop on Hazza bin Zayed Street opposite Al Wahda Mall, the doors were wide open yesterday, although the shelter was filled with people both sitting and standing. Meanwhile, the air conditioning struggled to keep air in the shelters any cooler than that outside.

At least one shelter on Airport Road, near the corner of Hazza bin Zayed Street, was working as intended. People were kept cool inside at 22C, according to the thermometer, and the doors opened and closed as they should. Since the department opened the first shelter last month, it has been putting up more in and around Airport Road, Fourth and Al Falah Streets, though many still have their doors open and have not been switched on.

Saeed al Hameli, general manager of the buses, had said previously that the department was co-ordinating with utility companies to get the shelters hooked up directly to a power source. A reporter from The National counted 14 shelters yesterday, of which four were running on generator power. Mr al Hameli could not be reached for comment. Those shelters are the first of 80 the department has said will be in place by September, with a total of 550 supposed to be up and running by the first quarter of 2011.

Mr Inntia, from the Philippines, said that even with the doors not working as they should and the temperature not as low as it was supposed to be, the shelter was helping him. He now took the bus to work almost every day. "I am not upset, maybe it will take time," he said. "Before I used to always take the taxi, not the bus. Now if I am not in a hurry, I can wait here for the bus." Up to 65,000 people use the buses daily, according to the department, which said it was selling an average of 12,000 Dh40 monthly bus passes.

mchung@thenational.ae