Dubai: It’s fast, it’s reliable and it is here to stay. Wifi services recently introduced on some Dubai-Abu Dhabi buses will become a permanent feature from next year, a senior Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official said.
The service is currently available on five buses after being launched on a trial basis but will soon be extended to five more buses.
“The trial period will end in December and, with the response to the facility being overwhelming, we are going to continue the Wifi connectivity and will continue to add the service to more buses,” said Adel Shakeri, director of IT services at RTA’s Public Transport Agency, as he took a ride with Gulf News on a Wifi-enabled bus to Abu Dhabi.
He said the internet connectivity, along with the catering service, is intended to give the inter-city bus services a “five-star” feel. “It’s a five-star hospitality we are offering to the commuters for no extra charge. The facilities have already played an important role in attracting new passengers on buses and it will get better as time passes,” he added.
The Wifi connectivity is currently provided free of cost but it may not be the same always. “It is free for now and we at RTA will try to keep it free as long as we can. I see it as an added value for customers,” Shakeri said.
Less than one month into the launch of the Wifi service, it is already popular with many regular travellers.
Many commuters told Gulf News they were very happy with the Wifi services.
Maguel Lopes, a business development manager with a Swiss firm based in Dubai, said he preferred a bus ride over a drive in his own car because he had to travel to Abu Dhabi often. “I like travelling by bus because I can work on the way. It’s been better since the RTA have launched the Wifi connectivity. I can browse, check mails and communicate on the way using free internet. It’s a fantastic service that RTA is providing,” said the Portuguese technocrat, who is a long-time Dubai resident.
But there were also those who were not aware of the service.
Ahmad, 25, an IT professional from Egypt, another frequent traveller between Dubai and Abu Dhabi could only think of positives on learning about the service. “I can save money now by not using my 3G while on the bus. It’s a good service and it will certainly help more people use the buses and it’s fast as well,” he said.
The internet service on buses can be accessed through a gateway called “rta@emirateswifi”, which requires passengers to register for free and then diverts them to the browser. This process takes less than one minute.
The Gulf News team found the service reliable and fast through the entire journey. With food and beverages also readily available, bus rides are not the same anymore. Once the service becomes permanent on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi route, it will be extended to over 100 buses on other inter-emirate routes.