As the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) marks its sixth anniversary this year by observing Public Transport Day today for the second consecutive year, RTA officials have urged the public to join hands and embrace means of public transport.
With free rides offered today on Dubai Metro, buses and water buses for Nol card users, RTA anticipates a 30 percent jump in the number of commuters today, Hussain Mohammad Al Banna, Director of Traffic Department at the RTA, told Gulf News yesterday.
“Several family-oriented events have been organised for November 1 under the theme — together we move. Our focus is on increasing the number of youths using public transport,” Al Banna said. While RTA held road shows to six prominent universities and a number of schools helped garner support for the day, the awareness on public transport was seen to be low among students, he said, adding that the road shows helped in reaching out to them.
“Choosing public transport is environmentally friendly, helps reduce congestion and boosts the economy,” Al Banna stressed. From humble beginnings, public transport in Dubai has evolved much over the past four decades, with nearly a million people now using them everyday, he added.
The first bus service began in 1968, with four mini buses travelling two routes. Today, the city’s public transport system comprises of not only buses, different types of taxis and various water transport modes such as abras, water taxis, water buses and ferries, but also boasts the world’s longest fully automated rail transport system — the Dubai Metro.
The fleet of buses grew from 301 buses in 2001 to 1,421 buses in 2010 and the number of passengers hit 113 million. The Dubai Metro passengers rose from 6,890,089 in 2009 to 38,914,963 in 2010. This year, the number is expected to reach 60,000,000.
Back in 2006, when RTA was set up, 6 percent of the city’s residents used public transport (excluding cab users). This year, the number of users has reached 9.5 percent. The RTA aims to raise the number of users to 30 percent by 2030. “This year, the total number of public transport users, including cab users, is expected to cross 350 million,” Al Banna said.
Today’s events will be held from 5 pm to 9 pm at the Al Gubaiba Metro station in Bur Dubai and the Union Station in Deira. Twenty-four government authorities and departments as well as private sector entities, educational institutions and various sector of the community are participating.
Local and traditional performances will be showcased at the Al Gubaiba station, in addition to a bazaar were products made by children with special needs will be sold and other activities. At the Union Station, Philippines Folklore show, sale of traditional products and mime shows will be held.