Friday, June 18, 2021

Public transport usage nearing pre-COVID-19 levels in Dubai

Nearly 80 per cent of public transport demand has been recovered compared to average pre-pandemic levels, said Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO of Public Transport Agency and Member of RTA Board of Executive Directors at the MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition webinar.

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.

Suneeti Ahuja Kohli

Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli has been in Dubai long enough to call it her spiritual home. She loves to travel but plans to settle down in Koi Samui, Thailand eventually to spend her sunset years by the sea. For now, she writes frequently on personal finance, retirement planning, business news and features, health and almost anything assigned by her editor. Her sojourns can be followed on instagram (suneetiahujakohli), news and views on Twitter @suneetiahuja, and for the rest, there’s a Facebook account.

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