By Andy Sambidge
Transport chiefs ink agreement with Tecom Investments to provide bus services for staff.
A deal has been signed between transport chiefs and the operator of Dubai Internet City, Media City and Knowledge Village in a bid to take thousands of cars off the emirate's roads.
In a major agreement to tackle the growing congestion on Dubai roads, Tecom Investments will offer bus rides to and from work to its employees in the free zones.
The move is part of the Roads and Transport Authority's plan to encourage companies to organise alternatives to commuting by car for workers, UAE daily The National reported on Sunday.
Peyman Younes Parham, a spokesman for the RTA, told the paper: “The average number of people per car in Dubai is 1.6 so if a bus takes 60 people to work, then around 40 cars would be removed from Dubai’s roads, which is fantastic. It will make a major difference.”
He said Tecom would probably initially purchase between five and 10 buses. The RTA will then help draw up routes to allow Tecom to bus in as many employees as possible from different parts of the city.
The Tecom partnership follows similar agreements between that RTA and Emirates Airline, Zayed University, Standard Chartered Bank, Cargo Village, Emaar Properties, Al Baraha Hospital, the Bustan Rotana Hotel and the Burjuman Centre.
The RTA operates a similar bus service for its own employees that includes free internet access and breakfast on board.
The bus option has existed for several years already. Various bus services such as CarFare, Fancy run buses to and from residential areas such as Karama , bur Dubai, Jumeirah to DIC and DMC. However, DIC and DMC largely serve as headquarters to giants in the advertising, media and telecommunications industries. These industries do not have fixed working hours and require their employees to drive around meeting clients, suppliers etc. Such industry employees need their cars to support their daily work and secondly, they cannot rely on a fixed bus schedule to get home. Perhaps they should try doing this for companies in Jebel Ali, Al Gouz, Deira, bank street etc
It is a great idea, the main thing is to ensure that the bus journey is more attractive to employees than struggling in their cars. Dedicated bus lanes to help buses avoid traffic would be the best solution. But failing that, low cost and with free on-board internet with enough seats to ensure people did not have to stand would persuade many. Given the choice between fighting traffic myself for 2 hours or letting someone else do it while I relaxed and caught up with emails or surfed the net, I know which one I would choose. At least that time would not be wasted time, it could be used constructively. I really hope the scheme is maintained and is successful as it will benefit those employees that use it, and the other road users who do not but have clearer roads.
We all complaint about Transport in Dubai. Nobody likes the long waits and uncertain time it takes to travel from one place to another in Dubai. RTA has been trying many different things (even something as unpopular and ineffective as Salik), but always failed to figure ways to ensure private car owners drop their vehicle in favor of a public transport. Current plan sounds interesting, but I would be skeptical at this point as we need to see some realistic implementation plan from RTA. Appropriate routes and frequency of these services will define the success factor. Remember people take their own car 'cause it almost allows them to go from anywhere to anywhere at any time of the day they want. Current Bus Routes of RTA hardly meets that expectation. We could blame traffic for delay, but the fact remains that routes are still highly inefficient as well as inadequate in most cases (look at the queues in major bus stands and hubs like Internet City). RTA needs to realize one thing, car owners are ready to leave their car behind, and are also ready to pay for a premium service only and only if the RTA alternative is really so good that people actually take a break from steering wheel and enjoy the ride to work (not drive to work) & back. Most drivers on Shk Zyd road knows it's a painful drive at office hrs, you don't need to push them hard to give up their wheels. But it needs to be coupled with following, timely service (including service spanned across long hrs - note free zone folks have some of the longest working hrs), reasonable queues at stops and last but not the least a well thought about route plan.