New buses on streets of Abu Dhabi

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New buses on streets of Abu Dhabi
Matthew Chung for THE NATIONAL

Last Updated: June 25. 2008 6:06PM UAE / June 25. 2008 2:06PM GMT
New buses are parked outside Emirates Palace. The Department of Transport has unveiled the new bus service for Abu Dhabi. Phil Cheung / The National
More than 1,300 new air-conditioned and handicap-accessible buses will be plying Abu Dhabi’s streets by 2010, the Department of Transport (DoT) said on today.

The first of the buses will start running on Monday on four routes serving Abu Dhabi Island. Six additional routes are scheduled to be added in August.

By 2009, the department plans to operate on 21 high-frequency routes.
Saeed al Hameli, the general manager for the bus office of the DoT, said the buses serving Abu Dhabi Island would be free until the end of this year to encourage residents to use them.

A further 100 buses are expected to start running by the first quarter of 2009.
The buses are among the first steps the department is taking to solve traffic congestion in the emirate, in which the population is expected to grow to 3.5 million by 2030.

A report issued on Saturday by the Department of Planning and Economy said the UAE was losing about Dh5 billion (US$1.3bn) to traffic congestion and that Abu Dhabi’s roads had outgrown their capacity.

“Our aim is to develop a comprehensive transportation network that will be appealing to all segments of society,” Mr Hameli said.

“Our biggest challenge today is to encourage car owners to utilise the new facilities and infrastructure once they come on line.”

Passengers could expect a reduction in waiting times for buses, Mr Hameli added.
As part of the project, the emirate’s 12 existing bus stations will be renovated and 25 new bus stations built. They will all feature a mix of retail, food and beverage and banking facilities.

Six depots will also be built for bus maintenance. The department is also considering creating dedicated bus lanes on some roads.