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Tue 30 Dec 2008 12:23 AM

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Abu Dhabi extends free bus travel by two months

Transport department makes pledge as fleet set to more than double in 2009.

Passengers will enjoy free travel on the UAE capital's new buses for another two months, Abu Dhabi Department of Transport (DoT) said on Monday.

The DoT had been expected to unveil ticket pricing for the service, launched about six months ago but the department decided to extend the free service until Mar. 1 in response to requests from customers, Saeed Al-Hameli, the DoT’s general manager for buses was quoted by UAE daily The National as saying. Al-Hameli said the fare structure had been drawn up but he would not reveal the price details, saying they would be released next month during a media campaign, the paper added.

He did confirm, however, that daily, weekly and monthly passes would be available.

The first five of 500 new wheelchair-accessible buses built by German firms MAN and Mercedes arrived in Abu Dhabi on Monday and will start running on Jan. 25, the paper reported.

By the end of March, 125 buses from MAN would be in operation, increasing the fleet to 450, including refurbished vehicles and 115 newer models in service since June.

By the end of 2009, the fleet is expected to comprise 760 vehicles.

"We will be studying express routes, 24-hour routes and some routes would be added based on a detailed survey," Al-Hameli said.

Routes connecting the city to Sheikh Khalifa City and the towns of Al-Mafraq and Al -Falah are also planned.

Improvements are also in the works for the routes from Mussafah, Baniyas and Shahama, as well as the ones to Abu Dhabi International Airport and between the capital and Al-Ain.

The bus service carries around 50,000 passengers a day, and with the new routes the figure is expected to increase to between 70,000 and 80,000, Al-Hameli said.

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