Roads and Transport Authority has announced that studies are currently on to explore possibilities of increasing passenger capacity on Dubai's public buses. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The number of passengers allowed on public buses in Dubai is likely to be increased soon, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has confirmed. Studies are currently on to increase passenger capacity on modes of public transport in Dubai.

“With the relaxation of COVID-19 rules by the government, the RTA is considering stepping up the number of passengers permitted on public buses across Dubai," RTA confirmed to Gulf News.

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The move is also in anticipation of surge in demand for bus services and to provide more mass transit options for the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai, which is set to open on October 1.

Dubai bus fleet

According to RTA, Dubai currently has a fleet size of 1,698 public buses, including newly-procured buses for Dubai Expo and other buses that were put on standby or contingency in case of any surge in demand.

There are also new single-decker buses introduced in Dubai’s central business district (CBD) areas, which are more efficient than the current single-deck buses “which are now old and close to their life term”.

“The new single-deck fleet, primarily acquired for Expo 2020 Dubai operations, has an increased passenger capacity,” RTA noted.

Expansion of bus-on-demand

The RTA is also working on expanding the bus-on-demand services to more communities in Dubai. RTA’s bus-on-demand service, which started in February 2020, has proven to be a big hit among public transport users as the app-based service allows riders route flexibility and cuts waiting time for commuters.

“With no fixed routes, the service provides customers with a convenient service, whilst delivering high levels of shared ridership,” said RTA, adding: “Currently, 13 Toyota HiAce vehicles are in operations in Al Barsha, International City, Dubai Silicon Oasis and Academic City.”

“Despite the significant impact of COVID-19 on operations, the service has proved popular with users, with consistent ridership growth every quarter. Till July 31, 2021, the bus-in-demand service has completed 407,599 rides with a rider base of 26,885,” RTA noted. Services, however, have been temporarily suspended since July 16 this year at Dubai Internet City and The Greens.

More eco-friendly buses

RTA is also scaling up the deployment of electric buses starting from 2023. The RTA is testing wireless dynamic charging for electric buses that allows the bus to be charged while on the move.

The full trial of single depot charging has been concluded successfully in 2019 and the RTA is currently testing two buses with opportunity charging technology, or the practice of charging batteries for short periods of time throughout the day, as opposed to charging it in full all at once.

“We are keen to get all stakeholders engaged in order to tailor the model of operation, taking into consideration ensuring the electric supply and the appropriate charging technology,” the RTA noted.