People in Al Karama wait outside a bus stop as the air conditioner inside is not working. Image Credit: Abdel Krim Kallouche/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Despite repeated assurances from the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) a huge number of bus shelters in Dubai still have no air conditioners.

With summer just a few weeks away, there is no sign that this lack will be rectified soon.

Last year, Gulf News reported that more than 150 bus shelters across the city either had no power connections to operate ACs or had non-working ACs, forcing commuters to face the extreme heat inside the aluminium stops.

According to RTA, there are a total of 898 AC bus shelters, out of which 130 are still not operational.

“There are 101 locations where we don’t have power connectivity, these locations have 130 bus shelters. We are coordinating with relevant authorities to get the power lines to these shelters. We managed to get power for around two dozen shelters last year and this year more will follow,” said Mohammad Al Ali, Director of Buses at RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

RTA launched AC bus shelters in 2008 and since then only a third of bus stops in Dubai have been equipped with ACs. However, power supply issues to some of these shelters seem to have stalled the project.

Addressing the issue, RTA also tried alternative power sources such as solar energy but nothing seems to have worked so far.

Though RTA has assured commuters that the issue will be sorted out sooner rather than later, commuters seem to be wary of the assurance.

They say that the authorities should ensure that all bus shelters get their air-conditioning systems in place before summer sets in.

“We have spent two summers without AC in the bus shelter in our neighbourhood and, by the look of things, I feel we will have to face the heat this summer as well,” said Nowroz Hassan, an Afghan who lives in Karama, where a bus shelter is without AC.

Another commuter said that the aluminium shelters make sitting inside without AC unbearable, particularly during summer.

“Without AC, the temperature inside the shelters is at least four to five degrees higher, which is why it becomes more difficult. I complained to RTA several times and we have been promised a solution but nothing has changed. The authorities should do their studies properly about power connectivity before they start the project,” said a Bur Dubai resident on condition of anonymity.

Notwithstanding the issues that have plagued the AC shelters project, RTA has announced expansion plans.

According to plans announced earlier, an additional 1,200 bus stops will be transformed into AC bus shelters but the details of the expansion plans are vague to say the least.

“The plan will follow the demand criteria. We are focusing on locations where there are a high number of customers, mainly Central Business District areas. That will ensure covering most of the busy bus stops in Dubai as part of the ultimate plan of covering all bus stops in the network, seeking high customer satisfaction while protecting them from high temperatures during summer,” added Al Ali.

The current bus shelters that RTA operates are managed by Right Angle Media, but a source inside RTA hinted that they are looking at different options to start work on the second phase of the bus shelter project.