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Watch healthcare workers in Abu Dhabi use new on-demand hospital shuttles to fight COVID-19

Responding to COVID-19: The city’s Integrated Transportation Center (ITC) now provides a free microtransit shuttle service via the newly developed "Abu Dhabi Healthcare Link" application.

Via Transportation •

Imagine being a nurse, racing around on your feet for 12 straight hours during the worst public health crisis in modern history, and when your shift is finally complete, you have to walk home. That’s the reality for too many healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Princess Estabaya, a health unit coordinator working in Abu Dhabi. But now, thanks to the city’s public transportation authority, there’s another option for her and her colleagues.

On Monday, Abu Dhabi’s Integrated Transport Center (ITC) debuted the all-new Abu Dhabi Healthcare Link, a new app (iOS and Android) that provides free on-demand transportation for the city’s medical workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Powered by Via and operated in partnership with United Trans, people like Estabaya now have a safe and reliable way of getting to area hospitals during the coronavirus public health crisis “Before this service I used to walk for 20-25 minutes,” Estabaya told The National .

“It’s tiring to work for 12 hours and then walk all the way home. By taking this bus, I can reach home before the restricted hours in the night come into force.” Larraine Ocampo works as a nurse at the same hospital “Nowadays because of what’s happening here in the world, it’s very difficult to ride the public bus because they’re limiting the number of passengers. So, it’s very convenient for us healthcare workers. We just need to book it,” Ocampo said.

As an appreciation for healthcare workers through the city, Abu Dhabi Healthcare Link is completely free, courtesy of ITC. Employees simply enter a rider code provided by their hospital in the mobile app, and they’ll instantly be able to book a ride to and from their home and place of work. The new on-demand transportation service is available from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., when fixed-route public transportation is scaled back as a preventative measure to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“We are going through unprecedented times, and we hope that this new service will support the healthcare staff that are tirelessly working round the clock to help save lives.” said Ahmad Bin Eisa Alserkal, Chairman of United Trans (member of Alserkal Group of Companies) The ITC adds it will study ridership closely, with plans to expand the new on-demand microtransit service to 24 hours a day should demand indicate broader service hours, but in just a few days, the reception has been tremendous. Abu Dhabi Healthcare Link already expanded the size of its fleet by 50% within a few days.

Its expansion supports and complements existing transportation provided by hospitals The ITC in Abu Dhabi now joins a number of high-profile transportation agencies developing the next generation of public transportation, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cities like Berlin , Timaru , and Malta have each deployed similar on-demand emergency transportation services to quickly and efficiently transport essential workers and goods, like groceries and medical supplies.