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=The passangers geting into the Bus at a stop on Hamdan Street in Abu Dhabi. GULF NEWS ARCHIVES Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: Bus commuters who need more than one service to reach their destinations will soon only have to pay one boarding fee, Abu Dhabi’s transport sector regulator announced on Wednesday.

The new fee calculation eliminates the Dh2 boarding fee for the second service, as long as the passenger boards the second service within 120 minutes of the first, the Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) has said.

“These and other changes are being implemented after an extensive study of Abu Dhabi’s bus services and the growing public demand for them,” said Mohammad Al Muhairi, executive director for public transport at the ITC.

No other change to fare calculation

The new system will be implemented from October 11 onwards, and is part of the ITC’s new Integrated Fare System. In this initial phase, it will apply to regional buses in Abu Dhabi, which are routes connecting Abu Dhabi island and its surrounding suburbs. Along these routes, the boarding fee is Dh2, in addition to 0.5 fils per kilometer. For reference, a trip between Abu Dhabi island and Musaffah therefore costs about Dh6.

In later phases, subsequent boarding fees for will also be eliminated for passengers who use more than one local bus service during a commute.

Increasing demand

The ITC has been working to upgrade bus services this year, in tandem with the upcoming implementation of toll gates in capital on October 15. The toll gates are expected to increase the cost of private transport, and officials expect that more people will then opt for public transit options.

More people have already begun travelling by bus, and the ITC recorded 48.2 million passenger trip by August 31 in 2019, compared to 41.9 million trips for the same period in 2018.

In order to keep up with this, the ITC will also increase the number of daily trips on the main bridges where the toll gates will be in operation. Al Muhairi explained that this will amount to 147 additional daily trips, specifically 43 additional services across Khalifa Bridge for passengers coming from Al Shahama and Yas Island, and 104 additional services across Al Maqtaa Bridge for those coming from Musaffah, Bani Yas and Al Nahda.

Bus service improvements

As Gulf News reported last month, the ITC will also launch minivans on October 11 to provide better connectivity between bus stops and the surrounding neighbourhoods. At the same time, the authority is working to set up more air-conditioned bus shelters, and increase the size of its fleet by 327 buses by the end of 2020.