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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Abu Dhabi transforms former shipping containers into bus stops

Transport chiefs are to build 100 new bus shelters in Abu Dhabi by end of the year, including 20 in shipping containers
Some of Abu Dhabi's new bus stops are modified shipping containers. John Dennehy / The National

Public transport users in Abu Dhabi will soon be taking the bus from a rather unique location.

Many new bus shelters being built across the city will be housed in recycled shipping containers, the Department of Transport said on Sunday.

It is part of a Dh35 million project by transport chiefs to build 100 new air-conditioned shelters in the city by the end of the year.

About 600 new shelters in total are planned across the entire emirate by 2020.

Close to thirty of the 100 new shelters are already in use, while 20 are housed in shipping containers and these will be rolled out in the next few months.

All of the new units will have a refreshed design with geometric patterns, outdoor shading and seats, bus timetables, bins for regular and recyclable waste, a QR (quick response) code panel that enables connection to bus routes and top-up machines for hafilat cards.

Some of the shipping container shelters will be temporary but others are permanent and more could be installed if feedback from the public is positive. The containers can be installed swiftly and are about 40 per cent cheaper than building regular units.

“The idea is to improve the quality of the public transport service,” said Ahmed Al Mazrouei, advisor to the chairman of the department.

“If we take no action then the traffic will get worse. The Government believes public transport is the solution so shelters are very important,” said Mr Al Mazrouei, who is head of the buses and water ferries team.

The inside of Abu Dhabi's new bus stops. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The news will also come as a relief to hard-pressed users of public transport. People often raise concerns about the lack of shelters in certain areas and the fact air-conditioning often breaks during the summer months. This move comes partly in response to that but also as part of broader plans to upgrade the network.

The 130 existing shelters in the city are also being cleaned up and more efficient air-conditioning systems installed, the department said.

It comes as transport chiefs encourage more people to take the bus. About 52 million bus rides were taken in Abu Dhabi last year – up three per cent on 2016. Figures for the first half of this year are expected in the next few months.

The new shelters meanwhile range in size from six, nine and 12 metres in length but most of the new units are nine metres. One larger 13-metre bus shelter is also under construction opposite the Abu Dhabi main bus terminal on Muroor Road that can accommodate up to 60 people. This is a high frequency area with dozens of city and suburban buses passing every hour.

Some of the bus shelters also reflect the identity of neighbourhood. For example, a new unit near Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has been painted white to mirror the famous place of worship. The new units have also dispensed with the large advertising sign common on the top of old shelters and instead have ads down the sides.

More initiatives to improve the emirate’s bus network will be unveiled in the coming months.

“The project reflects the aspirations of the leadership to establish a modern transport infrastructure and a sustainable living environment in the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” said Mr Al Mazrouei.

“Public transport reduces traffic for all people.”

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