Cars which will be offered for rent on an hourly basis. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Commuters can now pick up a car from any location and drop it anywhere else in Dubai, paying for the service by the minute or on an hourly basis, officials said on Sunday.

At 50 fils per minute or Dh30 per hour, including parking fees and fuel cost, the service is much cheaper than a regular taxi, offering commuters convenient mobility at an affordable rate. A second option of dropping the car back at the place from where it was picked is available at a much cheaper rate of 40 fils per minute or Dh24 per hour. The rates are inclusive of fuel costs and parking fees at zones A, B, C and D, which covers most of the city, except Deira Fish Market, Tecom areas and Downtown Dubai.

The cars will be available at 45 locations, including Rashidiya, Burjuman, Ibn Battuta, Union, and Business Bay metro stations.

The car rental service is restricted within the emirate of Dubai. Cars can be refuelled at any Enoc and Eppco petrol stations, free of charge.  

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) launched the services on Sunday in partnership with two firms, Udrive and ekar, each offering 100 cars stationed at different locations, including most of the metro stations and other landmarks.

Abdullah Yousuf Al Ali, CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency (PTA), said this initiative is part of RTA’s last mile solutions, providing commuters independent and flexible options at a reasonable rate.

“When you have such a large network of public transport, it is very important to give people different last mile solutions. Until now we only had feeder buses and taxis for the last mile, one only goes through fixed routes and the other is not affordable for all. We believe this car rental solution gives people both flexibility and affordability,” Al Ali told Gulf News at the launch.

The first phase of the service will see 200 cars on offer from various locations, including metro stations on red and green lines as well as other key landmarks.

Al Ali said the RTA will evaluate the response to the service over the next thee months and may offer more vehicles by end of this year, with the possibility of the authority launching its own fleet, including electric cars.

The service could be accessed through Udrive and ekar mobile apps or the websites of the service providers.

Residents can register for the service via mobile apps by uploading their Emirates ID, Driving Licence and credit card details as well as a selfie with either their ID or DL.

Once registered, the commuters will be provided a unique personal identification number.

The cars can be located through the map embedded to the apps and commuters can then make a choice.

“The car can be unlocked or locked by pressing an icon on the app and once inside, feeding in the vehicle identification number in the devise fitted in the car will start the vehicle,” said Al Ali.

Visitors can also register by uploading their passport copy and other documents.

“We like to present this as a car sharing system, which requires membership. The registration is very simple and the application is processed within an hour. There is a monthly charge of Dh20 for members, which will allow them to access our vehicles from a almost all the metro stations in the city,” said Vilhelm Hedberg, CEO of ekar.

While ekar is mostly available from the metro stations, Udrive will also have their vehicles located in other parts of the city.

Interestingly, Udrive also offers rental by the minute, where as ekar can be hired only on an hourly basis.

“You can rent a car with us by the minute at two different prices. If you drop the car back to place where you pick it from the charges are 40 fils per minute, while the other more flexible serivce that allows people to pick a car from any location and drop it at any other part of the city will cost 50 fils per minute,” said Hasib Khan, managing director of Udrive.

Khan added that the customers will have to drop the cars at RTA parking spaces only.

He said that the all the fines will be charged to the customer’s credit card and in case of an accident if it is a fault of the rent-a-car driver he will have to pay the access fees.

“In case of an accident we request our customers to notify us and the police immediately and get a police report. Our team will reach the accident location immediately and provide the customer with another vehicle,” said Khan.

According to RTA, the rental services will be allowed for a maximum period of six hours per day.

In May, when the RTA’s Integrated Mobility Platform will be launched, the service will be available through a common app offering multiple transit options.