x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Proposed fare rise delays RAK bus services

Bus services to rural and industrial areas have been postponed at least until March.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Bus services to rural and industrial areas have been postponed at least until March after the contracted bus company threatened to double its proposed fares.

The RAK Transport Authority (Rakta) has delayed its January 17 launch, arguing that the newly proposed fare is too high for low-income workers in the rural areas that the service aims to help.

Rakta officials, who would not release the name of the contractor, said they had given the company two months to comply.

The proposed fares have not been released. Under the previous price structure released in August, a one-way bus fare was set to cost Dh7. However, Rakta officials said the contractor told them it would not be economically feasible to operate the service at that price.

"We will launch accordingly, but it will be in the second quarter of the year," said Jason Farhat, the authority's director of commercial and investment affairs. "We are in the final stage of clearing these obstacles and doing more studies. We will have a clear picture in March."

He continued: "Just be a little bit patient with us, we will eventually launch. We are putting more pressure on the company itself to finalise their study, to co-operate in launching, and we are making more meetings with the concerned personnel."

It is the fifth time Rakta has postponed its bus service to rural areas, citing bureaucratic delays or a lack of available buses. Bus stops planned for privately owned land also remain a problem.

There is no existing public transport in RAK city or to outlying areas. Taxi fares increased by 30 per cent in October, with a minimum Dh5 charge.

azacharias@thenational.ae