A press release from the RTA Public Transport Agency today, with the spectacular headline “RTA unleashes ‘Wojhati’ Initiative“ (emphasis mine) announced the Wojhati service for planning journeys around Dubai. After a trial run, the Wojhati does actually work … after a fashion. Cutting through the usual chaff contained in Dubai press releases …
- The CEO of the Public Transport Agency, CEO Essa Abdul Rahman Al Dossari, said the Wojhati service would help commuters using public buses, boats, and metro “plan their daily journeys in advance in an accurate & effective manner“
- The Director of Planning & Business Development at Public Transport Agency, Mohammed Abu Baker Al Hashemi said “This system is easy to use …“
- There is a website, wojhati.rta.ae, where users enter their destination and receive a list of different possible public transport route options available, along with important landmarks and other useful information to help you on your way.
So after unleashing the Wojhati service on us, it seems appropriate to unleash myself on the Wojhati service. First attempt was to travel from the Burj Al Arab to the Burj Dubai. Wojhati says “The Wojhati has found a number of locations matching the origin you entered. Please choose from the list below…” and gives me a choice of the Burj Al Arab [Landmark] or Burj Al Arab [Stop] (I assume there’s a bus stop there … well I know there is because I’ve got off the bus there in the past. We’ll try the [Stop].
I get the same message for the Burj Dubai, except that in the list of 33 options, I don’t see the Burj Dubai anywhere. Now if that’s not a landmark in Dubai, then I don’t know what is. Options range from Commercial Bank of Dubai in Al Bateen [Landmark] to Butti Vallabdhas Mamiya Jewellers [Landmark]. Since I’ve never heard of Mr Butti’s Jewellery shop, let’s try and get there and see just how closely it matches my requested destination. Results involve a bus, an abra (apparently), and a walk (images in this post are screenshots only, nothing clickable on them):
From: Umm Suqeim-3, Burj Al Arab Hotel
To: Butti Vallabdhas Mamiya Jewellers
Departure: After 8:45 PM, Mon 20 April 2009
Travel by: Bus, Abra
Max. walking time: 20 min
Walking speed: Average (4 km/h)
Connection Preferences: Fastest connection
Lots of other information, total journey time is about 45 minutes, there’s a nifty pdf map with the route clearly marked using bus 8A along Jumeirah Beach Road all the way to the Gold Souk Bus Station on the other side of the Dubai Creek. Presumably, I shouldn’t rely on the bus keeping me dry and try and find an Abra before the bus goes into the drink. That’s not so clear on the pdf map. The walking part is marked in blue but unless I know where BVM jewellers are exactly, I’m not going to find it because there’s a big red “BUS” icon on the map right on top of it. It’s cheap though - only 2 dhs for the bus fare (actually all 4 options are 2 dhs).
So then I click on the interactive map. Ah, now where getting somewhere.
Click the “Animation” button and a little bus icon goes tearing down Jumeirah Beach Road at about 500 km per hour if it’s in real time, sideways. And it doesn’t slow down at corners, or for the Dubai Creek.
At the bus station, the walking route is clearly marked so I should be able to make my way to the BVM jewellery shop. However, I’m a long way from the Burj Dubai, and I don’t know how it’s related to the jewellery shop. And how does the bus cross the creek without getting wet - are there bus-carrying abras I didn’t know about?
All in all, good effort from the RTA (except for the minor inconvenience of arriving nowhere near where I wanted to get to). It looks pretty handy, and I’ll have a go at finding the Burj Dubai some other time.
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