Abu Dhabi bus commuters facing delays with recharging Hafilat cards
Bus passengers in Abu Dhabi are asking authorities to place more payment machines at bus stops after saying they face long queues to buy or recharge their cards.
Technical glitches are plaguing the Hafilat – buses in Arabic – fare card system, they said.
“Sometimes the machines only accept coins and not bank notes,” said Rafeeq Ahmed, a purchasing executive in Abu Dhabi.
“Those who are waiting to recharge their bus cards at peak hours miss the bus and are forced to take taxis.”
It would be ideal, he said, for each bus station to have a ticket vending machine, at which customers can buy and top-up cards, or a swift reloader machine, which only accept bank notes.
Passengers are often seen waiting in long queues for their turn during morning and evening rush hours.
The machine in front of Electra Park in Al Zahiya (formerly Tourist Club Area) occasionally malfunctioned, he said.
“You won’t find a machine across the street,” Mr Ahmed said. “One needs to get off at the bus stop near the Lifeline Hospital to recharge.”
Shundar Wazli, 24, a Nepali cashier, said he also faced issues with the machine.
“For example, it won’t accept a Dh5 note so I need to insert coins instead,” he said.
Last Sunday morning, residents were unable to refill their cards at a ticket vending machine next to a bus stop on Muroor Road across from Lifeline Hospital.
Sylvester Chinonye, 32, a Nigerian who has lived and worked in Abu Dhabi for two years, said the machine often had technical issues.
“Sometimes it doesn’t accept coins while, most of the time, it rejects certain notes,” he said.
Shahadeb Das, a 30-year-old tailor from Bangladesh, said he would need to recharge at the next bus station.
“I hope they can add another machine here,” he said.
At the Muroor bus stop in front of Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, Gladys Montero, 27, a Filipina lifeguard, tried to insert a Dh10 bill but the machine rejected it.
“We often encounter this problem, especially at night when many people come to recharge their cards,” she said. “They should send service technicians to check and fix the machine.”
Despite the glitches, Ms Montero said she was generally satisfied with the system.
“People are now getting used to the system,” she said. “We don’t have to carry coins every time we board the bus.”
Mr Chinonye agreed, saying: “It is cost-effective and makes commuting easier.”
Meanwhile, those who topped up their cards at a machine in front of Mushrif Mall on Airport Road did not face any problems.
“I’m happy it’s working properly today,” said a 24-year-old Bangladeshi retail executive, who did not want to be named.
“Sometimes, this machine only accepts coins and not bills.”
A number of passengers prefer to recharge their cards at the main bus station, near Al Wahda Mall.
“The machines at the bus station are working properly, and there are also four counters reserved for Hafilat users,” Mr Wazli said.
Last year, transport officials said they had installed 48 ticket vending machines, 155 reloaders and 11 machines selling top up cards in Abu Dhabi bus stations, shelters, customer care centres, shopping malls and hospitals. Ticket offices in all major bus stations also sell the cards.