By Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter, and Sarah Janahi, Staff Reporter www.gulfnews.com
Dubai: Some 24 drivers of public buses have been sacked for violations including the consumption of alcohol, the use of banned substances, and causing accidents, Gulf News has learnt.
The Public Transport Agency (PTA) at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has also fined a total of 4,123 passengers for violations including travelling without paying and indecent behaviour.
The fine for not adhering to the rules on public transport is Dh200.
The drivers sacked in the first quarter of this week included Filipinos, Arabs and Asians, the PTA said.
Their violations included driving under the influence of alcohol, and stealing.
A senior PTA staff member confirmed a number of drivers had been fired for a variety of charges.
PTA Drivers Affairs Department Director Mansour Al Falasi said: “The violations differ, from not abiding by bus schedules, to mishandling the buses while in service and also bad customer service.”
He said RTA inspectors were keeping a very close watch on the drivers to ensure the safety of passengers. The government body did not tolerate any violations on part of the drivers, Al Falasi said.
Al Falasi said the PTA used a points system to evaluate a bus driver’s performance. Drivers who lost more than 24 points in a year risked termination.
“There are around 40 to 50 violations listed for bus drivers and they accumulate points with every violation,” Al Falasi said. “The violations includes not following the schedule to passenger service.”
He said all bus drivers were informed about the violations and their consequences during training sessions. Drivers who committed a violation but did not accumulate 24 points were sent for refresher training courses about the PTA’s rules and regulations.
Training sessions could go for a week, he said. There are 4,200 bus drivers working with the PTA.
Commuters approached by the Gulf News expressed concern about the bus drivers’ violations.
“The RTA should make sure that the public bus drivers should not consume alcohol because it is very dangerous for the passengers,” said Lisa, a Filipina passenger.
She said she often encountered unruly drivers who did not hesitate to shout at women. Another passenger, who didn’t want to be named, said: “There should be even stricter rules to check drivers’ behaviour because they are responsible for safety of thousands of passengers using the public buses every day”.
The number of people using public transport in Dubai has increased exponentially in recent years, especially with the introduction of the integrated public transport system which links public buses with the Dubai Metro.
At an average of 100,000 people are now using the Metro and around 130,000 use public buses every day.
The PTA said it operated 1540 buses on 119 routes.
The buses are described as covering 100 per cent of the Dubai CBD and 75 per cent of the urban area.