(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The flat Dh1 fee for city buses will double to Dh2 starting November 1, announced the Department of Transport (DoT) on Wednesday.
The increase is part of an overall adjustment to the public bus fee structure in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and will also involve fee changes for regional and inter-city bus services.
The move was undertaken after months of study considering all economic aspects of the public transport system, said General Manager of DoT's Bus Office Saeed Mohammed Fadel Al Hameli. "Our decision is not built on cost; it's built on understanding better how we can serve our clients in a proper, ethical way that will help us identify which segments are relying on this service and which services we can offer to them," he explained.
Regional and intercity bus rates will be changed from a flat rate of Dh3 and Dh10, respectively, to amounts reflecting the distance covered. Passengers on regional buses that leave Abu Dhabi city for outlying districts such as Musaffah or Bani Yas will now pay a boarding fee of Dh2 plus 5 fils per kilometre travelled. Similarly, passengers going to an entirely different city will pay a boarding fee of Dh10 plus 10 fils per kilometre travelled.
"When we took over from other entities, there was no consistency with the cost of the fare," said Al Hameli. The DoT has administered the public transport system since 2008. "It was necessary to develop one equation that fits all (routes) through the emirate of Abu Dhabi, to be fair and give people equal chances to use the public transport," he added.
Anticipating concerns that an Abu Dhabi-Al Ain bus trip will now cost around Dh25 instead of Dh10, the DoT decided to keep a Dh10 bus service which will stop at several locations between the two cities and take two hours longer than the direct "express" service, confirmed Al Hameli. Otherwise, he noted, the new Dh25 fee matches the standard bus fare between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which is roughly equivalent in distance as Al Ain.
The DoT is striving to gauge who most depend on its bus services and how best to serve them. Al Hameli revealed that the addition of new services often results in overcrowding and long waiting periods. "We don't know if people use it because it is so cheap and has no value, or really because they are relying on it. Therefore, we have to build this system, trying to balance this equation of cost, users and user preferences," he said.
New services are also being introduced next month, including the Dh500 "Hafelaty" annual bus pass for full-time students (on their parent's or university's visa) and the free "Reaya" bus pass for special needs passengers and senior citizens above the age of 60. The cost of the existing "Ojra" monthly bus pass (for use within the city) will double from Dh40 to Dh80, corresponding to the increase in city bus fares.
"You're controlling your discount and benefit, because if you are relying on bus services, you can use it an unlimited number of times," Al Hameli pointed out.