The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is monitoring the numbers on a weekly basis and expects to operate at pre-pandemic capacity in a month or two. “By February-March, we should achieve ridership levels of 2019,” said Bahrozyan.
This is in contrast to other cities globally that continue to struggle to up the number of users on public transport during the pandemic. Fear of enclosed spaces and crowds still weighs high, especially in Western cities, where public bus and other services are running at 40 to 60 per cent of 2019 numbers, according to industry experts.
The UAE has been first off the blocks in opening up the country and allowing normalcy to return. After a few weeks of movement restrictions and night curfews for the National Sterilisation Programme, Dubai started opening the city responsibly in the last week of April. The international airport was open for passenger flights on July 7, 2020.
However, tourism hasn’t picked up pace as expected, with several countries continuing to impose movement restrictions, including on air travel, which has had an impact on other modes of public transport systems, including taxis and limo services.
“Also, many people continue to work from home in Dubai. As people get vaccinated, we are hoping more will resume working from the office, which should up the numbers for taxis too,” added Bahrozyan.
Public transit services are an essential driver of greener urban environments and increased socioeconomic mobility. Before the coronavirus outbreak, the number of riders using public transport and shared mobility means in Dubai had risen to 594 million in 2019. This included passengers using the metro, tram, public buses, marine transport, e-hail vehicles, smart car rental vehicles, and taxis.
The daily average of public transport riders in Dubai amounted to 1.63 million riders in 2019. Public bus users make up for a quarter of riders of public transport.
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