Population is growing, the urban sprawl spreading. And when that demand happens, one of the key questions is mobility for the residents, especially through public transport.

Why? As per the Public Transport Trends 2015 report by The International Association of Public Transport (UITP), a non-profit organisation; “Overconsumption of energy and the impact of this on greenhouse gas emissions is an obvious challenge. Oil and transport are interdependent: 90 per cent of transport fuels are oil-based and 50 per cent of oil produced worldwide is consumed by the transport sector. Public transport, cycling and walking are the answer to achieving sustainable urban mobility. In addition to being energy-efficient and green, they use less public space and are collectively safer and healthier than cars.”

Buses, trains, trams, Metro and now the Hyperloop - the future is mass transport that is environmentally friendly, efficient and facilitates the economic growth of the place.

Gulf News reader Colachel Ebrahim raised the issue of needing more inter-city buses on public holidays, with accompanying pictures of snaking queues of people. The report, published on August 11 was well researched and valid. But, there was an interesting angle to the article. Looking at the photographs one would think that the buses were at a frequency of 30 minutes to an hour. In fact, the Roads and transport Authority (RTA) had timed them to arrive at every 10 minutes, which is a good supply. But, the demand far outstripped it.

The matter was raised with the RTA, who explained that they could not increase the regular fleet “to cater to occasional demand as it would not be financially and operationally feasible ...to maintain that fleet for the rest of the year...”.

This raises the challenge that most developed cities around the world are facing, when it comes to their mass transport models - the need to evolve and maintain a mass transit supply in a sustainable manner.

Ebrahim gets first place for bringing to the fore this core issue of urban development from a human point of view.

Second place goes to the report from Abu Dhabi’s Al Muroor area by Haider Ali, “Teenagers ruin park, just for fun”, published on August 17.

Boys are spreading vegetable oil on the park floor to drift their bicycles. And they misbehave with employees who try to stop them. We understand the need for young people to vent their energy, but it cannot be at the expense of public property and people’s safety. The floor is a hazard for anybody who might unwittingly attempt to walk across it, additionally it is extremely tedious for the municipal workers to keep cleaning it daily. We did raise the issue with Abu Dhabi municipality but no response was forthcoming. So, who or what is responsible for this behaviour? Bad parenting, lack of play areas, or inclement weather that forces young people into limited spaces. Share your views with us on our Facebook page.

Mohammad Heiri won third place for his report, “Pavements are for walking, not for parking heavy vehicles”, published on August 18. The headline says it all and the accompanying photograph is quite shocking. You have massive flatbed trucks taking up the entire pavement - where do people go, then? Heiri did an excellent piece of reporting, talking to several of the residents in International City. They’re now waiting for some corrective action.


First: Colachel Ebrahim

Published on August 11, 2016.

Colachel Ebrahim, a security and safety office working in Jebel Ali, came across long queues of passengers waiting to take the bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. This issue, he says, comes up during every public holiday, as people are travelling between the two emirates for the holidays.

He said: “Community reports are very helpful to people and I felt like I was doing something like a social service. When I noticed this rush of passengers, I wanted to raise awareness. The rush started at 4pm and finished at midnight. I think every passenger must have stood in the heat for at least two hours each. Even though the authorities increased the frequency of the buses, it wasn’t enough.”

However, after the report was published, he has seen a difference and hopes that during the next public holiday, the situation will be better. He also requests the authorities to consider introducing another form of inter-city transport in the coming years.

Second: Haider Ali

Published on August 17, 2016.

Haider Ali, a Pakistani national based in Abu Dhabi, raised the issue of teenagers ruining a park just for a little bit of fun. He believes that community reports are a great platform to get messages across to other people.

The student said: “Sometimes people go through issues that cannot be directly raised with the authorities. In that case, these platforms help a lot. After my report was published, I received positive feedback, especially from my neighbours and others living nearby who have also witnessed the problem. They have even encouraged me to write more reports in the future.”

Third: F. Mohammad Heiri

Published on August 18, 2016.

F. Mohammad Heiri, a resident of Dubai’s International City, has been concerned about heavy trucks being parked on pavements in his area. He wrote to the newspaper after speaking to others in his community who have also been affected by these vehicles being parked incorrectly.

He said: “I thank Gulf News for the time and effort taken to publish the concerns raised by members of the community and highlighting issues about the areas we are living in. The response from my neighbours was good. They thought it was high time someone spoke about the issue that we are facing.”

— Profiles by Rabab Khan/Community Interactivity Editor