Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer addressing the ‘18th IRF (International Road Federation) World Meeting and Exhibition’ in Dubai on Monday Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Improvements in Dubai’s roads and transport infrastructure led to savings of about Dh210 billion in terms of avoiding time and fuel wasted in traffic congestion from 2006 to 2020, a top official said on Monday.

Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) revealed the figure in his keynote speech to the ‘18th IRF (International Road Federation) World Meeting and Exhibition’ in Dubai.

In the same period, the total investment in the improvement of roads and transport amounted to Dh140 billion. Mega projects in record time

Al Tayer said RTA has achieved mega projects in a record time highlighted by the Dubai Metro project, which had been delivered in just four years, and the Dubai Water Canal project that had been completed in less than three years.

Dubai meanwhile increased the number of pedestrian bridges and tunnels by four times, from 26 to 125, and extended our cycling track network from 9km in 2006 to 463km in 2020. The network is expected to reach 668km by 2025.

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Dubai Metro is massively popular and saves congestion and carbon emissions from traffic Image Credit: Supplied

Safer roads

“RTA’s projects have cemented the competitiveness of the UAE, which had consequently been ranked No. 1 in road quality worldwide for five years in a row. RTA’s joint efforts with the General Head Quarters of Dubai Police have reduced road accident fatalities from almost 22 cases to 1.8 cases per 100 thousand during the period 2006-2020 and reduced pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population from 9.5 to 0.5 between 2007 and 2020,” said Al Tayer.

Climate neutrality

“Environmental sustainability is a key pillar of the agenda of the UAE’s Government, which is the first government in the region committing to the climate neutrality strategy 2050. 22 per cent of global carbon emissions directly result from the transport sector. To support the UAE’s efforts to conserve the environment, RTA has revamped its vision to fit with the future directions of Dubai to become ‘The world leader in seamless and sustainable mobility’.”

RTA has developed a roadmap towards zero-emissions public transport by 2050 and its initiatives contributed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 400,000 tons by 2020, added Al Tayer.

Urban masterplan

In his speech, Al Tayer touched on the efforts of the Dubai Government to achieve sustainable urban development in the context of the human-centric Dubai Urban Plan 2040 aimed to improve the wellbeing of people and make Dubai the best city for living in the world.

According to the plan, 55 per cent of the expected population will live within 800m of metro stations. It adopts a ‘20-minute city’ concept to allow residents to access 80 per cent of daily services within 20 minutes by walking and cycling. Meanwhile, 60 per cent of the emirate’s total area will be nature reserves and rural areas.

Digital drive

Al Tayer also mentioned the Intelligent Traffic Systems Centre at Al Barsha, which uses advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things along with the latest communication systems. It links all signalised traffic junctions with the centre. The centre raised the percentage of road network coverage with smart traffic systems from 11 to 60 per cent, which is expected to increase to 100 per cent by 2023. It also reduced fatal accidents by 42 per cent, and the delay time at intersections by 25 per cent.

He added: “RTA manages 190,000 paid parking slots using an integrated centre for parking management. RTA deployed vehicles equipped with digital cameras supported by artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies capable of scanning more than 10,000 parking spaces per hour, with 99 per cent accuracy, and issuing tickets for violations automatically.”

Driverless mobility

Al Tayer reviewed RTA’s efforts to implement the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to convert 25 per cent of total mobility journeys in Dubai to smart journeys on driverless means by 2030.

In this regard, RTA signed a partnership agreement with General Motors–Cruise to operate GM’s autonomous vehicles to deliver taxi and shared mobility services by 2023, which would make Dubai the first city in the world, outside America, to operate these vehicles, he said.

Future prospects

The second day of the conference started with a discussion panel titled ‘Delivering the Next Generation of Road Mobility’.

Attendees included Randell Iwasaki, Leader, State and Local Transportation for Amazon Web Services; Daniel Avdagič, City of Ljubljana, CEO of AV Living Lab, and Shailen Bhatt, Senior Vice President – Global Transportation Innovation, AECOM. The session was moderated by Shelley Row, Former Director, ITS Joint Program Office.

Panelists at the IRF session on Monday Image Credit: Supplied

Iwasaki started his speech by congratulating Dubai on its great attention to roads safety and wished the emirate to continue this advanced approach to serve residents, including road users. He cited Apple and iPhone founder Steve Jobs experience with connectivity. He stressed the importance of data, computing power and electronic connectivity, which are very important in addressing climate change, by upgrading transport networks. Iwasaki concluded by stressing the need to provide special transportation for the elderly.

Shailen Bhatt concluded the session by thanking RTA for its achievements in mobility and transportation infrastructure. “Modern technology is a key pillar in the development of the next generation of transportation means. What caught my eye in RTA’s records is the clear drop in the number of road accident deaths, thanks to plans, effective strategies, and hard work,” he said.