Abu Dhabi: From Monday until the end of the year residents in Abu Dhabi will enjoy free bus trips on the island to encourage car owners to leave their cars behind, it was announced on Wednesday.
“Altogether 125 brand-new, handicap-accessible, world-class, white and green buses will be deployed in Abu Dhabi between 6am and midnight to transport people, free of charge, to make public buses the preferred mode of transportation,” said Saeed Al Hameli, general manager of the bus section at the Department of Transport.
He launched a two-year plan to gradually overhaul the emirate’s public transport network and infrastructure in line with “Plan Abu Dhabi 2030”.
The project will be completed in phases, starting June 30, with the gradual deployment of 258 buses as a short-term solution. Of these 125 are new and 133 have been refurbished, Al Hameli told a press conference.
The fleet will enter service gradually with 60 buses being deployed on the first day on high-traffic routes, to immediately enhance commuter comfort and convenience and improve frequency and scheduled services.
“A further 100 new buses are due to enter service in the first quarter of 2009, with more phases to follow. All future phases will aim to increase city, suburban and inter-city capacity by 50 per cent by the end of next year.”
The new buses, Al Hameli said, will initially service four new routes, followed by six additional routes in August with the goal to operate on 21 high-frequency routes by the beginning of 2009, covering most of Abu Dhabi Island.
The department of transport plans to service Abu Dhabi with 1,360 world-class buses by the end of 2010 and has already designed Abu Dhabi’s future bus route network, which will provide comprehensive coverage within cities and link the emirate’s urban areas.
As the emirate’s population is expected to increase to 1.5 million people by 2010, the department is today sowing the seeds for a safe, sustainable, economically viable, efficient and lifestyle-enhancing transport system that will be the preferred mode of transport for the public,” said Abdullah Rashid Al Otaiba, chairman of the Department of Transport.
“This is the first step on the long road ahead that will fuel further economic growth, contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions, enhance quality of life and establish a sustainable public transportation system for all the people of Abu Dhabi.”
He added that by 2030, Abu Dhabi will be home to 3.5 million people and the aim is to develop a comprehensive public transportation network that will appeal to all segments of society. Our biggest challenge today is to encourage car owners to utilise the new facilities and infrastructure.
“It’s going to be a gradual process but Abu Dhabi residents and tourists will start seeing the changes next week,” Al Otaiba said.
Upon completion of the project, Abu Dhabi will boast one of the world’s most modern bus fleets.
Freedom Bus lanes planned
*From June 30, free bus rides will be offered until the end of the year with the gradual deployment of 258 buses, 125 new and 133 refurbished.
* Routes: Marina Mall to Mina Zayed through Zayed The First Street and Hamdan Street; Abu Dhabi Mall to Marina Mall through Zayed The First Street; Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed (Airport) Road to Courts Complex and Carrefour Mall and Al Muroor Road to Madinat Zayed Centre.
* Toll free telephone number 800 55555 for information on routes, complaints or suggestions
* Dedicated bus priority lanes may be deployed in key Abu Dhabi arteries that will ensure the smooth flow of buses and connectivity.
* Renovation of the existing 12 bus stations and the development of 25 new bus stations. Over the next five years, the 37 bus stations will feature an array of retail, banking, food and beverage and other facilities.
* Creation of six bus depots.
* Tariff for old buses on other routes will remain unchanged.