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A Day of Irony for Public Transport Day

In an odd coincidence the very day Abu Dhabi is proposing to start raising bus fees by 100 percent, is also the day Dubai will be offering all public transport for free.

October 11, 2012 5:59 by

The capital of the UAE has always faced much comparison to its livelier and sometimes reckless younger counterpart, Dubai. The differences between the living standards became especially apparent last month when, Abu Dhabi issued an ultimatum to its public sector employees to either move from their residences in Dubai or lose their housing allowances. Though construed by some (Kipp included) as a desperate attempt of the capital to revive its faltering real estate market, the announcement did draw light to the 20,000 employees who make the daily commute to their better paying jobs in the capital. Just how much better could life in Dubai be, if 20,000 odd employees chose to rough it out on the roads for nearly three hours every day?

As an old timer Dubaian, I find such dynamics rather entertaining. Which is why, it was with a smug grin worthy of the Cheshire Cat himself, I observed a happy coincidence in policies of either Emirates’ transport authorities.

As of November 1st, Abu Dhabi will be increasing its fees by almost 100 percent. Currently charging commuters Dh1 for a ride, the new tariffs will start from Dh2 within Abu Dhabi city with an addition to 5 fils per km, with Dh5 being the average.

It so happens, here in Dubai, November 1st is Free Public Transport Day. It is a day the authorities encourage people to leave their car behinds to step aboard the foot-crunching, rib-elbowing, gag-inducing wonderful world of public transport.

Jokes aside, both events stand to bare testimony to how significant the development of the public transportation in the Emirates. I can remember the time when Abu Dhabi had just launched its public bus route; it offered free rides just to encourage people to use it. And no, I don’t mean free rides one day of the whole year—no, the initiative lasted for a good six months after it was launched in June 2008. Considering where it was 2008, the fact that Abu Dhabi needs to raise fees is reason enough for recognition.

And the extent of coverage and the variety of medium of public transport in Dubai, authorities can offer free public transport to the public, does too stand as an impressive testament to how well developed the two have become.


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