Abu Dhabi: To the dismay of commuters, many bus shelters across Abu Dhabi remain without shade and air-conditioning despite the sweltering summer heat.
Although transportation authorities have taken several steps to ensure that their public transport meets international safety standards, residents in the capital are still struggling as they spend anywhere between five and 20 minutes waiting for their bus under the summer sun.
Zayed the First Street, popularly known as Electra Street, is not only packed with bus stops that are not air-conditioned, but the waiting spots are devoid of any shaded areas apart from nearby buildings that most residents stand under while they wait.
In some places, commuters can be seen standing in the shade provided by a lone bus-stop sign.
Indian expat Saraj, 32, who was waiting in a Khalidiya area bus shelter and works as an office boy at a private company, said: “I have been working with this company for two years and for this entire period of time I had been taking the bus from this very bus shelter to Airport Road and back. I have been standing in the unbearable heat every year, and I have no alternative but to do that because taxis are so unaffordable.”
Meanwhile, Filipina resident Jennifer revealed that she only takes the bus on extremely hot days and prefers to walk when the weather is more tolerable.
“Even when we go to the air-conditioned bus shelters, they often become very crowded and it is as if the AC isn’t even on. They should make them bigger and ensure that the cooling systems never fail. The non-air-conditioned bus shelters are even worse when I wait for 10-20 minutes for each bus and have to take two buses per trip,” she said.
Meanwhile, others waiting at bus stops at Sixth Street and other newly built, air-conditioned shelters on Bainuna Road said that they are very comfortable using these facilities.
“Until, I apply for a driving licence, I have no problem using the bus at all and, with these shelters, I can barely feel the summer heat outside. It only takes about five to 10 minutes for each bus to arrive and I can barely feel the time pass,” Raza M., a month-long resident of the UAE who works at a local bank, said.
Earlier, Gulf News reported that the Department of Transport (DoT) was planning on rolling out its second phase of the air-conditioned bus shelter project by installing 360 such facilities in the emirate.
Around 650 buses operate on more than 95 routes catering to more than 50 million passengers a year within the emirate, according to the DoT Statistics released in 2011. Abu Dhabi initially saw the first 20 air-conditioned bus stop shelters in 2009.
The DoT was not available for comment.