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Wednesday , 20 September 2023

Boosting Public Transport in Dubai

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA)’s comprehensive Strategic Transportation Plan (STP) is an action plan which addresses the challenges facing the Emirate’s transportation system. Launched in 2007, the principal areas covered by the STP include enhancement of the road network; development & enhancement of the public transport system; enhancement of pedestrian and cyclist networks & facilities, development of policies and legislations to overcome congestion and ease transportation; use of ITS technologies and enhancement of traffic and safety awareness among commuters.

Dubai, like many countries in the world, faces problems of traffic congestion, low usage of public transport, pollution and a high accident fatality rate. The city has a car ownership density of around 541 per 1000 persons – one of the highest in the world. Only nine percent of the commuting trips of the city’s populace are done through the new state-of-the-art metro and bus system as against 65% in Singapore and 87% in Hong Kong. Pollution is high with a hydrocarbon concentration of around 800ppm in the city as against about 200-300ppm in many advanced countries. The accident fatality rate is about 13 per 100,000 compared to about 6 per 100,000 in the UK and Sweden.

To improve the state of public transport, the RTA STP has taken a holistic approach by integrating transport planning with economic and urban planning. The STP is focussed on shifting the emphasis in personal transportation away from cars to clean public transport, and on reducing the number of accidents and fatalities. The plan has been progressing smoothly and possibilities are that the goals will be achieved. There has been a significant reduction of fatalities from 21.7 in 2007 to 8 per 100,000 in 2010. The Metro Red Line which was begun in 2009 carries over 200,000 passengers per day today. It has a total length of over 52km, comprising a 44km elevated stretch, a 5km underground stretch and a 3km at grade stretch. The STP has also taken advantage of Dubai’s proximity to the coast to develop an Advanced Marine Transport System. The system deploys vessels of various capacities such as water taxis which carry 11 passengers, Abras which carry 20 passengers, water buses which carry 30 passengers, and water ferries which carry 100 passengers per trip. In 2010, the Abras carried a total of 15 million passengers while water buses accounted for 316,000 passengers.

The RTA has planned 500km of road network including 120 interchanges and nine new ring roads with a budget of around 44 billion AED for the future. It hopes to increase its bus fleet from the current 1420 buses to about 2000 buses by 2020. The number of passengers travelling by buses is expected to grow from the present 250,000 to two million per day. The RTA also plans to introduce 110km of railway routes by 2020 and more than 320km after that. The Eihad Rail Project (formerly the Union Rail Project) is a 1,200km inter-emirate rail network project that is being developed across the different emirates of the UAE.

The first stage of the project, scheduled to open in 2013, is a 270km long freight line, and will link Ruwais to the Shah gas field. Later, phases of the project will have passenger and freight lines connecting Dubai, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, and Ajman, with further connections to Oman and Saudi Arabia. The Al Safouh Tram project is expected to be completed by 2014 and will connect Burj Al Arab, Mall of Emirates and Dubai Marina. The RTA also hopes to expand the waterways network to over 450km in the future. With more projects such as the Automated Fare Collection (AFC) project and the Automated Vehicle Management (AVM) project, the RTA is poised to use latest technology in its effort to modernise and introduce a multi-modal transport network throughout Dubai.

(This write-up is based on a presentation by Abdul Mohsin Ibrahim Younes, CEO – Strategy and Governance Sector, Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai at the 59th UITP World Congress held in Dubai from April 10-14, 2011)

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