DUBAI // Drivers are sharing cars, using public transport and even moving house in response to this month’s increase in petrol prices, a survey suggests.
Nearly one in five would consider car pooling or using school buses, and nearly a quarter would use public transport more often.
One in five intend to reduce their commute by moving to a home closer to work or to public transport stops, and 15 per cent said a smaller or more fuel-efficient car would be a solution for them.
The price of petrol and diesel at the pump was deregulated last month, and is no longer subsidised. Instead it is set each month by an independent committee, based on international comparisons.
At the end of last month the committee increased the price of a litre of special from Dh1.72 to Dh2.14, but decreased diesel from Dh2.90 to Dh2.05.
The new prices came into effect on August 1. The committee will meet next week to set prices for September, and there has been speculation that petrol prices may fall.
The polling company, YouGov, also asked people about the medium to long-term effect of the rise in fuel prices. Nearly three quarters expected rents to rise in areas closer to work or public transport.
On the positive side, 46 per cent believed the removal of fuel subsidies was necessary for the nation’s long-term economic sustainability.
Forty-four people said it would lead to better environmental sustainability.
YouGov polled 1,070 residents, 444 of them car owners, between July 29 and August 8.
The UAE has high level of car ownership. There are 8.8 million residents and about two million private cars, said Wadii Eljourani, YouGov’s consumer research director.
The rise in the price of fuel was not only affecting car owners, he said.
Ivano Iannelli, chief executive of the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence, said if petrol prices remained high, incentives would be created for the adoption of cleaner car technologies.
“This new structure allows for the market to provide more energy-saving vehicles,” he said.
Besides hybrid and electric vehicles, cars and buses relying on diesel may also become a more competitive option, he said.
There has been concern over the environmental effect of diesel fuel and engines in the past, but those meeting Euro 4 and 5 criteria are “extremely efficient and very carbon-friendly”, he said.
“The green economy will strongly benefit from this,” he said.
Nevertheless, as the price of fuel varied depending on global markets, it was possible that pump prices could be reduced, he said.
Marketing professional Elena Katernyuk, 31, a Russian expatriate, had just returned from holiday last month when she found out about the plans to deregulate the price of fuel.
The change had considerable ramifications for her because she commutes from Dubai to Abu Dhabi every day.
She heard the news from a colleague who shared the same predicament.
“Within that day we came up with a plan,” said Ms Katernyuk, who now commutes with her colleague, taking turns behind the wheel.
Ms Katernyuk, who drives a Lexus, said that before the increase the price of fuel was not a major concern.
“I came here from Canada, thinking that the UAE as a country had quite affordable fuel,” she said.
She used to spend about Dh95 for a full tank of petrol, which would last her two full trips from Dubai to the capital and back. She now pays up to Dh120.
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(via The National)