x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

More buses, more often for intercity travellers

Plans are being made to increase the number of services between Dubai and other emirates to improve growth prospects for business.

DUBAI // Plans are being made to increase the number of public buses between Dubai and the other emirates as part of a growing realisation that the best growth prospects for the business may lie in an intercity network.

Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) officials said their goal was to increase the number of buses between emirates and improve the frequency of routes. Some 9 million passengers travelled from Dubai to other emirates in August this year.

"Our business of the future is intercity," said Furat Ali al Amri, the RTA bus department director. "Our aim is to provide a good service. There is a big requirement from people coming in from other emirates."

The surge in demand can perhaps best be gauged by the popular Dubai-Sharjah route, where ridership has soared to more than 24,000 passengers per day from 4,000 in 2006. That figure rises to more than 25,000 at the weekend. Mr al Amri said the weekend service was likely to be boosted first due to passenger demand.

Service to Abu Dhabi is also among the top routes with about 4,300 commuters travelling from Dubai daily, rising to some 6,000 on the weekend with services running every half hour.

Commuters cheered plans to upgrade services, in hopes of minimising delays. Some said they occasionally shared a taxi with friends if they needed to travel to Dubai urgently.

"If I miss one bus I know it will take an hour [for the next] so then it's better to share a cab," said Rajiv Ahir, an Indian national who has lived in Al Ain for nine years. "If I'm not in a hurry, it's much better and safer travelling by bus."

Travellers coming to Dubai said the bus offered the best transport option when bargain hunting in the emirate. Ismail Ali, a Bangladesh national, echoed that sentiment as he queued up to buy a ticket at Al Ghubaiba bus station in downtown Dubai.

"I shop in Dubai because many things are cheaper here. I get good deals," he said while dragging a suitcase filled with recent purchases. "Many of my friends come here from Al Ain, Ajman before they go home on vacation."

Unlike services to Sharjah, which run around the clock, the last buses on the Al Ain and Abu Dhabi routes leave Dubai at 11.30pm. Some passengers said that no matter the hour, the demand was there for extending services.

"We definitely need more buses," said Millicent Calica, a Filipina who works as a nurse in Sharjah and lives with family in Dubai. "They must think of us passengers, about the consequences for us being late to our jobs."