12 March, 2008

Taking the bus

My car has been in the shop for a week. During that time, I have been getting a ride with one of my co-workers from Dubi Internet City all the way back to the Burjuman area. Last Thursday, he had other plans, so I thought I would just take a taxi. After 40 minutes of waiting, I decided to take the bus. I figured, they got new buses now, preparing for the Metro.. why not?

So, I walked over to the bus stop, saw the first bus, hopped in. Okay, squeezed in. I have to admit that I drive a fully loaded BMW 530, which would make me a lot more susceptible to discomfort. However, this experience is far worse than I had expected.

The A/C was not on. The bus quickly filled up to its maximum (people standing without seats). I started sweating, so I quickly took off my jacket and loosened my tie. Yes, I was an odd-ball in the bus. Then the stink started sinking in. Even if the passengers wouldn't have normally had such strong body odors, the lack of air circulation and cool air would have induced it anyway.

The seats are terribly uncomfortable. My ass was numb within 10 minutes. It could be that I have been spoiled with my leather seats, but I do consider myself a practical man.. I saw the bus is a mode of transport. I was willing to be inconvenienced.

The windows are tinted, thanks to the advertisements on the bus, so I can hardly tell where we are. I didn't get off until the bus reached the central station. I got out, lit up a cigarette.. breathed the fresh air (the weather was spectacular that day).. and hailed the first taxi I saw.

If I could go back in time, would I have waited longer for a taxi or taken the bus? I would have taken the bus. Would I take the bus again, knowing these conditions? Not likely. I really hope that this is not how it's going to be when the Metro arrives. I want to use public transportation. I am tired of driving. RTA, quit your self-congratulatory bull, and increase the buses so we are not packed like sardines. Fix the A/C's in your buses (ironically, that is why my car was in the shop!).

49 comments:

Proud Emirati said...

for any complains call 8009090

sd-b said...

some of us are lucky to have cars or afford cabs. imagine the ones that have to be subjected to this mode of transport every day. also imagine the ones (ladies) that can't even get on to the bus due to limited seating.

sd-b said...

forgot to mention that I am one of the lucky ones to have a car but on those rare occasions when I do have to take the bus it always saddens me to see the bus conditions and how inadequate the system is.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

So eventually, it’s not only people from this part of the world that like to complain.
Where do you come form btw Dubai Entrepreneur?

B.D. said...

I may be wrong, because I myself have not had to rely on busses in Dubai since I first bought a car here in 2003. But in all fairness I think experiences with public transport can be quite eratic. Sometimes you do get the less crowded bus, you get the seat, the AC is too cold rather than not working, etc. I think one would have to spend, say, a week on the buses to really get a clear picture. You didn't for example mention anything about your trip taking a long time--so apparently it wasn't all bad. And in fairness to RTA, they have reportedly placed an order for the lagest number of new buses for a city ever, in the world.

You raise, however, a very valid point regarding the promise of the metro. No matter how sleek and modern these new babies will be, the fact is it will still be public transport. Most passengers will be standing most of the time. Most will not have the skills or will to interact with fellow passengers, so whatever novelty and thrill there is at the start will quickly wear off. But that said, you will have conveniences never to be had on buses. Whatever the possible pitfalls, post-2009 public transport in Dubai should really be a blessing.

rosh said...

Sorry to hear DE - sounds like an ordeal. I agree, an efficient public transport can make world of a difference on commute to work, especially in a major city. I use public transportation here in the city (unless you wish to burn away monies on tolls, parking yet, be stuck in traffic longer). Must admit, the bus service in and around NYC is awesome - it's a pleasure. Seats are comfortable, plenty of room - frequency is quite generous (especially during rush hours), fellow passengers are polite and considerate (for the most part), fares are affordable - air conditioned or heated (rare occasion, of a malfunction).

Often the busses fill up – however regulations mandate people allowed onboard, preventing overcrowding. I could remain on the bus, reading, napping or gazing out the window while staying cool or warm, depending on the weather. Perhaps, a coincidence am reading your post, because, yesterday, I had an epiphany of sorts. It was a mild realization, and one I clearly should've made earlier - love the city's bus service :)

The main bus terminal "Port Authority" - is often crowded, however, traffic flow is controlled/managed well - quite commendable. The only aspect, I'd like to see improve - perhaps have a few better bus drivers, since a few can be harsh/inconsiderate.

Hopefully RTA shall work it out – am sure it’s all quite challenging, given changes across Dubai.

Kyle said...

I don’t think adding the # of buses will solve the problem. In fact, they’ll further add to the already deteriorating traffic condition in this unplanned city.

One of the ways forward is to first solve the traffic jams. This can be done by deploying more cops on strategic roads to ensure proper rotation of traffic and avoid a never-ending gridlock situation – Fat chance of this happening in the near future but it’s worth a try!

CG said...

I think expats should have to pay 5% of their salary as road tax or ride the smelly bus.

Kyle said...

@ CG:

I think expats should have to pay 5% of their salary as road tax or ride the smelly bus.

Really?

Do you think a 5% road tax will help alleviate the traffic problem here?

Personally, I think yours is an arrogant comment and totally uncalled for!

hemlock said...

you have a 5 series? what model?
im almost tempted to read your blog now :D

CG said...

@Kyle

Personally I don't think we would have these problems without the extra people.

Uncalled for? I don't think so.

Yes, it will alleviate some of the problem.

Kyle said...

@ CG:

I don’t think you understand. Neither you nor any of your kin has any say in the matter of extra people here.

It’s the Government of the UAE, the ruling family’s call that decides on the extra people issue.

Uncalled for? I don't think so.

I’ll say this loud & clear. I think yours was/is a sick & racist comment especially when you vehemently endorse taxing expats for your own shortcomings. You may choose to deny it, but it’s a fact!

Dubai Entrepreneur said...

proud emirati, they don't pick up ;)

dubai jazz, where I come from is irrelevant.. it would be easy to say that I am nothing like the people of my country (not sure this is a good or bad thing).

bd,

the trip took 2 hours to reach the bus station in Bur Dubai. This, compared to my usual hour+ in my car.. I didn't think it mattered, since a bus will definitely be slower. It will take smaller roads and make frequent stops.

When in Europe, I certainly find public transport useful.. when in states like Texas, it's completely useless (frequency is terrible, but when you get on, they are very nice and comfortable).

I have taken the bus at 11pm before.. it was obviously empty. Most people would use buses during the day.. and certainly to go to work and back. These are peak hours and these are the times that you can get a true picture of the state of transport.

hemlock, bah! It's an older model (2003). I have had it for quite a while now.. I don't change cars like people do with mobile phones here. A car will stay with me till it stops running.. or I give it away to someone.

Anonymous said...

How did u light up and still manage to breath fresh air. And is smoking allowed in public places in Dxb?

BuJ said...

lol CG.. i agree.. expats should pay a 5% road tax.. but if that passes, then locals should pay a 5% arrogance tax :P

btw, taxation on the roads (at least in the UK) is based on engine power and emissions and not passport tiers.

Proud Emirati said...

lol @ CG

Proud Emirati said...

I don't usually like to involve in off-topic discussions but couldn't resist the temptation :D

Kyle, yea it is the ruler family who allow this expatriates invasion (no offense to expatriates, am only stating a fact) to this country without the acceptance of the majority of the citizens.

I want to know what would ur view be if u were in the citizens shoe?

rosh said...

Until recently, given SHJ laws, RTA busses from SHJ, were forced to return to DXB absolutely empty. However, I believe since (sometime) last year, this has changed - SHJ now receives a chunk of the fare revenue into DXB. It isn't ideal for DXB, however, they earn a small portion of the fare revenue - plus it helps ease traffic and lighten grief for those without cars.

Dedicated bus lanes across the UAE, would be awesome. Personally, I think this could be better money spent, than fancy subway stations.

i*maginate said...

"Ok, whatever" to most of these comments. D.E., quite humble of you to ride a bus & post about it lol.

What are these new bus shelters for when in peak times they can't accommodate 50+ ppl?

And why are they all recently jazzed up in wooden cardboard, saying 'work in progress'? What does this imply, I wonder.

Traffic jams will always exist here. Salik has worsened the jams especially on free exits, and all down Sufouh Road, reaching the end of Jumeira Beach Road.

For the smooth-running of the bus service, a special bus lane is all that's needed, initially. And added to that, a separate lane for construction trucks that speed at 100kmh down Shaikh Zayed Road.

Kyle said...

Proud Emirati:

I want to know what would ur view be if u were in the citizens shoe?

Live and Let Live!

It's like you've invited a guest to your house. Yet, you grumble and blame the guest for all the hosting woes. That makes you a terrible host.

It also debunks the myth of your people being one of the best hosts in the world!

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Kyle,
Emiratis being nice folks and good hosts is not a myth, it is a reality.
Simple reason:
Have you ever met a counterpart of Michael Savage or a Christopher Hitchens here?

Kyle said...

@ Dubai Jazz:

Emiratis being nice folks and good hosts is not a myth, it is a reality.

I don't doubt it because we have our own experience with Emiratis.

Yet, there are some that are just the flip side of a coin.

Look, I am a law-abiding resident of this country. But when you start blaming expats (be they Arab, Asian, Caucasian etc.) for all your woes in your country, I’d say that’s way out of line and blatantly wrong. And that's what got this debate go haywire and spiral out of control.

Proud Emirati said...

Kyle, fair enough but I hope that those guests still behave this way, as guests !!

yea, now compare our situation here with what would happen in other countries if they reached to what we are having here, not being able to use ur own language, being a minority in ur country, being forced to live in a life where u have no decision on, etc. We are definitely the best hosts in the world !!

Nature Strikes Back said...

I use buses a lot. Mostly short journeys on a popular work route so waiting for the next bus if the ladies seats are full is not a problem. You just have to factor in extra time esp. during rush hour. Like B.D. said they are erratic in terms of comfort depending on the age of the bus and the route. Buses that go to Al Ghusais for example are never as smart as ones that go to the airport!

For less popular routes especially out of peak hours it sucks. My record of waiting for a bus is 1.5 hours. As for the novelty factor I think there have been only 2 occasions when I haven't been the only whitey on the bus! Bus lanes would be a great idea but at 1.5 DHS for most journeys I take I ain't complaining!

Kyle said...

@ Proud Emirati:

I speak for myself, my family and close friends we have here when I say we are law-abiding residents in this country. This does not apply only for the UAE but wherever we move on after we finish our term in the UAE.

In response to your comparative analysis theory, it has nothing to do with expat residents because expat residents don’t make the rule(s) that are afloat in the UAE.

the real nick said...

This experience sounds like my former daily journey to work on the Underground in London, only that I did it twice a day. Including the lighting up a cigarette bit.

I apologize for being off off-topic.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Kyle,
No one is suggesting that you are not a law abiding resident…whether the majority of the local population was consulted before the flock of expats happened or not, it’s not my problem neither it is yours. We shouldn’t be blamed for it.
The way I see things is this: this country has provided me with job opportunity, I will live here and try my best to abide by the law and maybe suggest changes that I think might be good. Without becoming patronizing or interfering. I am grateful that so far all the locals I’ve met were nice to me (amongst which is my own employer, who’s a super-nice person)… so this is it really, it’s like a social contract…

Kyle said...

Hey Nick:

Including the lighting up a cigarette bit.

Those things will kill you. Me too but who gives!!!!!

Have a few puffs on me and enjoy your weekend :)

I apologize for being off off-topic.

A timely dose of humor especially after so much hostility in the air!

Cheers :)

Dubai Jazz:

Appreciate your candor :)

Have a good weekend :)

CG said...

I’ll say this loud & clear. I think yours was/is a sick & racist comment especially when you vehemently endorse taxing expats for your own shortcomings. You may choose to deny it, but it’s a fact!

@ Kyle oh Kyle
Why say it so loudly? That is so un-guestlike, don't you think? Remember what they say about guests? They are like fish. They go bad after 3 days.
You think mine was a sick & racist comment. It was not. I endorse taxing expats because they should put some money back into the country, and more importantly it will show us who really wants to be here and who is here for the free ride. The roads are clogged and this looks like an ideal way to ease the flow. You do not know me, so never assume I shall deny anything.
I said it lightly before but now I shall be louder and clearer, expats should pay road taxes and learn to speak Arabic. I added in a new one for you to chew over. Puff on that and have a swell weekend.

Dubai Entrepreneur said...

cg,

The whole concept of taxes cannot be without having a say in how this money is being spent. By your own definition, expats are guests (in other words, you are eagerly waiting for them to leave).. you cannot tax someone who does not have a say in how their tax money is spent.

That's just silly.

CG said...

DE
Yes I may be silly, but why should people have a say in how their taxes are spent? What country are you in anyway? Ohhhh perhaps all of this Marina and Tulip Way are dulling your senses. Welcome to دبيّ

Anonymous said...

i think UAE law 11 of 1981 states : "No expatriate is allowed to remain in the territories of the United Arab Emirates after repeatingly insulting, injuring, damaging, or annoying a citizen of the United Arab Emirates. The expatriate will be removed from the country simply by being reported to any Police station within 24 hours of the offense.

The expatriate has no right to appeal, and has 7 days to leave the United Arab Emirates and will be barred from re-entry for any purpose (including transit and tourism) for a minimum period of 12 months, extended to 3 years at the discretion of a Judge.

All judgements and sentencing are final. The Federal Court in the Capital is the last avenue for appeal."

Proud Emirati said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BuJ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
secretdubai said...

Emiratis being nice folks and good hosts is not a myth, it is a reality.

It is really not fair to generalise like this. Plenty of Emiratis are nice, plenty aren't, just like any nationality of people the world over.

One can make more reasonable generalisations as to certain aspects of a culture, but not as to basic human "niceness". I don't think that varies at all by country. There are saints and assholes wherever you travel.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

You are right SD, everything in this world is relative and variable.

I guess my assumption was based on my impression about the other gulf states I’ve been to; thinking that maybe that was the right sample to compare to….

DUBAI JAZZ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
samuraisam said...

Reminder to last few people commenting on XYZ's identity:
"Listing people’s home telephone numbers, addresses, real names (if not already in common use), IP addresses or displaying any other information considered private is against the rules."

DUBAI JAZZ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DUBAI JAZZ said...

Sanctimonious Sam,
Under what chapter of the law my last comment was deleted?

samuraisam said...

For discussing it.
It does not matter if you intended for it to be playful banter; all the comments pertaining to XYZ's identity were removed to stop the discussion.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Thanks for being over-protective Sam, your discretion is all that matter eventually right?

samuraisam said...

dubai jazz: Perhaps you'd like everyone here to begin discussing what your name is and 2.5 seconds later start throwing up personal information about you?
Rules are here for a reason.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Sam, FYI, I didn't throw any information about Mr. XYZ that wouldn't be available for 100000 people.
But since Mr. XYZ got annoyed, I am okay with deleting all the comment and I did relay an apology through a joint acquaintance, please don't imply that I am trying to breach somebody's privacy when I never did and never will, and don't lecture to me about that as well.

rosh said...

"There are saints and assholes wherever you travel."

So very true. Bad apples in every basket - blanket generalization is false.

samuraisam said...

dubai jazz:
I realize that; I believe I already covered the reason why your comment was deleted...
"It does not matter if you intended for it to be playful banter; all the comments pertaining to XYZ's identity were removed to stop the discussion."

CG said...

Dubai Jazz
I was not 'annoyed' but concerned. There are a huge number of weirdos out there, and your clues as to how to obtain private information were more than enough. It may have been amusing (if you had said it to a group of 3 people), but to publish such when you don't even know me to the entire WWW is neither funny nor clever.
I emailed you with a request to remove it. My email was neither rude nor silly, but a straight forward request, which you failed to respond to. After getting zero response from you I then alerted the Blog Admin.
And yes, I do consider myself quite connected. Fortunately I do not abuse my position.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Sam, I think CG’s comment is quite redundant now; can you please delete it as well? Because if you won’t I am going to have to reply and we’ll be back to square one.

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