Dubai: The mood was glum on Sunday as holidayers returning home after the long Eid break boarded the 3.30pm Muscat-bound bus from the Rashidya Metro Station — not far from the spot where a Mwasalat bus crashed into an overhead barrier last weekend, killing 17 on board and injuring nine others in one of the worst road accidents in the UAE.
“I had a creepy feeling when our bus arrived at Rashidya Metro Bus Station to pick the last batch of passengers for the afternoon trip,” said Inder, who boarded the 51-seater coach from Abu Hail Metro Station minutes earlier. “I tried not to think of the accident but it was impossible to shake if off,” said the 28-year-old Indian who was on his way back to Muscat after a 10-day long vacation in Dubai.
Another passenger, Vishal, 36, who regularly travels between Muscat and Dubai by bus, said the tragedy weighed upon his mind throughout the Eid weekend. “I have used the bus service thrice in the past five months. It’s always been smooth, comfortable ride. What happened on Thursday evening was a freak accident but then there is no such thing as a freak accident. These deaths could have been prevented,” said Vikas who lost an acquaintance in the deadly crash.
“It’s hard to believe that this bus would fold up like an accordion and kill so many people,” said another passenger as he patted the side of the distinct red and white coach
The luxury bus was reduced to a mangled wreck of twisted metal and shattered glass after its driver took a wrong turn and rammed into a height restriction barrier which then sliced through the vehicle killing many sitting in the front left row.
Oman’s national transport company Mwasalat and Dubai’s Road Transport Authority (RTA) rolled out three daily trips between Muscat and Dubai in January 2019.
In Dubai, passengers can board the bus from Abu Hail Metro Station, Dubai Airport Terminal 2 and Rashidiya Metro Station at 7.30am, 3.30pm and 11pm.
A one-way trip lasts around six hours and costs Dh55, while a return ticket costs Dh90. Deira-based Al Khanjry Transport also plies on the same route with buses departing for Muscat at 7am, 3pm and 10pm. A one-way ticket here is priced at Dh60 while a return ticket costs Dh100. Every day, hundreds use the bus service. Buoyed by the response, Mwaslaat announced an additional trip along the popular route. However this offer was valid only during Ramadan.
Meanwhile Emirates is preparing to launch the world’s shortest Airbus A380 flights by starting double daily trips from Dubai to Muscat from July 1. Flying a distance of just 340km each way — shorter than the length of all the wiring on board — this will be the shortest trip for a double-decker super jumbo.
Passengers flying on Emirates flight EK862 will leave Dubai at 8.25am and land in Muscat at 9.40am. The return flight will depart Muscat at 11.15am and land in Dubai at 12.25pm. A second daily flight will leave Dubai at 4.10pm and land in Muscat at 5.25pm. The return leg will leave Muscat at 7.05pm, and land in Dubai at 8.15pm.