Dubai; A hundred bus stops in Dubai have been converted into smart shelters, each equipped with free WiFi, a smart kiosk, a mini mart and much more.
In the next phase, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is planning to set up 400 more such stops.
“At this stage, we have installed 100 Smart Shelters. We will study the customers’ feedback on the service and identify areas of development. Once we are satisfied with the service, we will consider additional locations and will commence the implementation of the second phase of 400 additional stops,” said Abdullah Yousuf Al Ali, CEO of Public Transport Agency
The concept of smart bus shelter, equipped with air-conditioning, free WiFi, a mini mart, a smart kiosk, mobile charging ports and real-time passenger information screens was launched at GITEX 2015 and the first smart shelter was set up in Jumeirah in February this year, followed by 25 more by the end of February.
“The Smart Shelter project has been initiated in partnership with the private sector. The RTA has an investment programme with Right Angle Media to develop the smart services and operation. The RTA has completed the project, Currently, smart services are operational at 100 locations,” added Al Ali.
Spread across 15 districts of Dubai, the smart shelters have been selected from the existing 656 air-conditioned bus stops located across the city.
The locations for shelters were selected based on several safety considerations and the number of riders.
Some of the areas where these shelters have been set up include Shaikh Zayed Road, Al Wasl, Jumeirah, Deira, Umm Al Ramool, Al Quoz, Al Rashidiya, Al Qusais, Al Awir, Al Nahda, Al Satwa, Al Karama, Al Ras, Al Garhoud, and Al Jafiliya.
Among the services available at the smart bus tops are payment of Dewa and Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa) bills, topping up mobile balance, paying credit card bills, remitting cash back home, topping up international mobile balance for visitors as well as booking air tickets.
Commuters can also charge their mobile phones, purchase new Nol cards and top up Nol balance at the kiosk.
A mini mart will also sell refreshments and snacks.
WiFi for 20 miniutes
Interestingly, free WiFi will be available only for 20 minutes per customer. The time limit has been decided based on the average waiting time at a bus stop, which is not more than 10 to 15 minutes.
According to the RTA, the limitation of access will ensure that people are not occupying the bus shelter just to access WiFi.
To access the wifi for the first time, commuters will enter their mobile number and email id on the WiFi UAE website, which will lead them to a link to connect to the WiFi. The WiFi service is being provided by du.
In addition to smart shelters, the RTA has initiated the second phase of the AC bus shelter project during which 400 bus shelters would be made air-conditioned.
According to Al Ali, RTA has also developed a plan to operate shelters which have no power connections.
Among the 656 bus shelters, at least a 100 are without air conditioning due to power connectivity issues.
Al Al admitted that there are some problems with power connection at these locations, however, “during this year, we shall have all shelters in operation.”