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RTA’s modern mass transportation systems include the Metro, public buses, tram and marine transportation Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: The Public Transport Day initiative has facilitated Dubai’s role in promoting environmental protection, achieving sustainable development, and encouraging residents to use mass transit means. It has also increased the number of public transport riders and raised their awareness of RTA’s modern mass transportation systems like the Metro, Tram, public buses, and marine transportation. The number of mass and shared transport users in Dubai reached about 461 million riders in 2021, at a rate of 1.3 million riders per day. The first half of this year witnessed a growth in the number of riders hitting 304.6 million passengers, at a rate of 1.68 million riders per day.

Releasing this data on the eve of the 13th Public Transport Day and the 17th anniversary of RTA on November 1, Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA, said, “Dubai’s public transport network features integrated elements that have become the backbone of the mobility of residents across Dubai. The network succeeded in coaxing a change in the culture of the entire community towards the use of public transportation. RTA’s strategic and executive plans are based on integration to ensure smooth traffic flow across Dubai.

"These include the expansion of road networks, crossings, and public transport systems including the metro, tram, buses, and marine transport as well as the first and last-mile means and shared transport. It also focused on constructing connected pedestrian and cycling facilities and upgrading the traffic and transport technologies to achieve the efficient utilisation of road and mass transport systems. The plans also focused on initiating policies to encourage the public to reduce the reliance on private vehicles and increase the dependency on other means of transportation, including public and shared transport.”

Integrated infrastructure

Al Tayer added: “Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and the follow up of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council; and His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Finance, RTA has accomplished enormous infrastructure projects costing more than Dh140 billion. Such projects are highlighted by Dubai Metro, which now spans 90km after the launch of Route 2020, the 11-km Dubai Tram and the Dubai Water Canal which was completed in less than three years.

“RTA also implemented many road projects which contributed to increasing the total length of the roads network from 8,715 lane-km in 2006 to 18,475 lane-km in 2021. The number of bridges and underpasses increased six times from 129 bridges and underpasses in 2006 to 884, and the number of pedestrian bridges and underpasses has also quadrupled from 26 pedestrian bridges and underpasses to 121 during the same period, including Dubai Metro and Tram bridges. The length of the cycling tracks increased from 9km in 2006 to 502km in 2021.

“The projects implemented by RTA have enhanced the global competitiveness of the UAE which was ranked Number One in the quality of road worldwide for five consecutive years. The concerted efforts of RTA and the Dubai Police General HQ have helped improve road accident-related fatalities from 22 cases per 100,000 of the population in 2006 to only 1.9 cases in 2021,” said Al Tayer.

Digital transformation

Al Tayer said, “RTA supports Dubai digitisation and the use of the 4th Industrial Revolution technology to enhance operational efficiency and improve customer service quality. It adopted a specialised digital strategy encompassing a roadmap of projects and programmes aligned with local and global digital transformation strategies. Such a drive enables RTA to elevate its standing as a global pioneer in advanced digital technologies to serve infrastructure and transport. It is reflected through six strategic pillars and 11 paths consistent with the digital transformation drive, and the technologies of the “RTA accomplished 76 projects out of a total of 106 projects listed in its digital strategy. Work is currently up and running on 14 projects, and 16 projects will be undertaken in the future. The digital adoption index of RTA’s services amounted to 95.8 per cent and compliance with the Dubai Data Law clocked 100 per cent.

“RTA is keen to play a leading role in the digital transformation drive. It charted out a comprehensive roadmap for automating services and tasks, enhancing the use of artificial intelligence and data science, and introducing smart dashboards to support strategic decision-making. It has also improved operational efficiency, optimised the use of existing resources, and expanded the scope of digital partnerships and innovation.”

Smart mobility

“RTA is moving ahead towards realising the Dubai Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed to transform 25 per cent of total mobility journeys in Dubai into journeys on various self-driving transport means by 2030. It recently completed the first phase of preparing digital maps for Cruise’s Origin autonomous vehicle.

The process is a prelude for the launch of the actual service by 2023 rendering Dubai the first city in the world to commercially operate Cruise self-driving vehicles outside the United States of America. The self-driving Cruise Origin vehicle will be deployed in limited numbers next year to offer taxi and e-hail services. We have plans to increase the number of deployed vehicles gradually to reach 4,000 by 2030,” added Al Tayer.

Private sector partnership

“RTA expanded the scope of partnership with the private sector to provide innovative services and new opportunities in the mobility and finance sectors. For example, RTA established Hala, a joint venture with Careem considered the first of its kind e-hailing agreement between a government transport authority and the private sector. It contributed to reducing customer waiting time for taxis from 11.4 minutes to 3.7 minutes,” he further added.

Indicators and results

“The analysis of RTA’s Energy Report 2021 showed a decrease in total energy consumption by 18 per cent, and fuel consumption by 36 per cent compared to the average consumption during 2016-2019. This drop is attributed to the increased use of hybrid and electric taxis by Dubai Taxi Corporation, along with a 15 per cent decrease in diesel consumption, despite an increase in the public bus fleet.

“RTA has carried out a process to upgrade its old fleet of buses to replace them with modern ones equipped with eco-friendly Euro 6 engine types compatible with the European specifications for carbon emissions. The report also indicated an increase in electricity consumption by 11 per cent, as a result of the operation of the 15-kilometre Dubai Metro Route 2020, which includes seven stations - all of which are accredited with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification,” he explained.

Public Transport Day

The 13th Public Transport Day initiative is being held this year under the theme: The Public Transport Day promotes a healthy lifestyle #SpeedUpSlowDown (Speed up to increase physical activity and slow down to enhance peace of mind). It aims to deliver a positive message to encourage the community to opt for public transport means for better physical and mental health and enjoy a relaxed time rather than the hassles of driving.

The Public Transport Day coincides with the Dubai Fitness Challenge 30X30 initiative launched by Sheikh Hamdan. The initiative urges residents to allocate 30 minutes every day for practicing their favourite sport over 30 successive days.

This year’s celebrations revolve around the idea that public transport means contributing to physical and mental health. The campaign includes a variety of sports and healthy activities and programmes such as: Stop to Move initiative that encourages healthy lifestyles on board public transport means, and Quick Relaxation in the tram and marine transport means. The initiative sends notifications via WhatsApp to riders of specific geographic zones (within a radius of 500 metres around each station) urging them to meditate, relax and adopt correct breathing techniques. It also includes the design of a digital map for all healthcare facilities along the routes of public transport which can be downloaded by scanning a QR code. It shows the running tracks, fitness centres and outlets for selling health products among other events.