Smart shelters will be constructed in phase two of the RTA's bus shelter project. Image Credit: COURTESY: RTA

Dubai: Dubai will have 400 more bus shelters in the next two years as the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) recently awarded a contract in phase 2 of the project, RTA has announced.

The contract covers the construction of 400 air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned bus shelters which will be operated by Right Angle Media, a company that also operates the existing bus shelters.

To be operated on the public-private-partnership model of Design-Build-Operate-Transfer, the project will be complete by the end of 2017, bringing the total number of bus shelters in Dubai to 1,295.

Currently, 895 air-conditioned bus shelters are located across 656 bus stops, out of which around 100 lack air-conditioning due to a connectivity issue.

To counter the connectivity problem, RTA had recently announced the launch of smart shelters powered by solar energy.

“The Air-Conditioned Bus Shelters Project is part of a master plan to leverage the public transport sector along with associated infrastructure in the emirate with the aim of bringing happiness and comfort to riders, especially during the blazing summer season,” said Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of RTA’s Board of Executive Directors.

He added: “RTA, through this project, seeks to provide an element attracting people to use mass transit means, pushing the share of public transport in the daily mobility to 20 per cent by 2020 and up to 30 per cent by 2030.”

Currently, the share of public transport in the mobility of choice in the city is at 15 per cent.

Phase two will see the building of 50 smart shelters where commuters will be able to sip their coffee or tea at small cafes that will be available inside the bus stops while browsing the internet or paying bills through smart kiosks that will be set up in the shelters. These will be in addition to 100 shelters that are being transformed into smart shelters.

According to RTA, 50 of these will be ready by the end of this year and the remaining 50 early next year.

“The smart air-conditioned shelter offers a wide range of services to bus riders, including free WiFi internet courtesy of Du, NOL card selling and recharging, mobile phone top-up, payment of bills of government departments, and charging stations for mobile phones,” said Al Tayer.

The uniquely designed crescent-shaped shelters are made of high quality materials, using paint resistant to heat, humidity and dust. The shelters are equipped with eight seats custom-made to give added convenience to users, accommodating 13 to 16 people.

The shelter is also special needs-friendly.

The second phase also includes the construction of about 150 solar-powered shelters, offering power solution in areas where electric power is not available.

“Providing electricity to power air-conditioned shelters in some remote areas was one of the key challenges confronting planners at the initial stage of the project. Therefore, RTA has worked on ways and means to overcome this issue by developing solutions to power these shelters through solar power technology. The Public Transport Agency embarked on the experimentation and assessment of the use of solar panels to power these shelters,” said Al Tayer.

Shelters will be built of a reinforced polyester-covered aluminium in order to protect the structures from harsh weather conditions. The seats are made of rigorous, low-heat absorption materials for the convenience of users.

LED lights will be used to power billboards to economise use of power.