Senior officials of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) at a press conference to announce the new services at the RTA Headquarters in Dubai. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: Students and senior citizens will receive 50 per cent discount on all modes of public transport in Dubai starting from March this year, a senior official at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced.

Also, use of public transport will be free for people with special needs. The RTA will also launch ‘Daily Red Ticket' which is a day pass worth Dh14 and can be used for unlimited travel on public transport in a day.

"The new initiative is part of the RTA's plans to expand scope of its services to take in more social segments in a bid to encourage them use public transport means in Dubai," said Abdullah Al Madani, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the RTA's Technical Corporate Support Services Sector.

Speaking at a press conference held at the RTA Headquarters in Dubai yesterday, Al Madani said that new categories of Nol Cards will be introduced gradually over the next few months. The Nol cards are automated fare collection cards mandatory to use public transport including Dubai Metro, public buses and water buses in Dubai. They can also be used for paying parking fees in the paid parking zones in the city.

"We have started upgrading the fare collection systems at Metro stations, public buses and parking metres to enable them accept new categories of the Nol Cards and we hope to complete upgrade by the end of this month [February]," Al Madani said.

The RTA will start receiving applications from students, senior citizens and special needs people in March. The age to qualify for the senior citizen travel card is 60 years and above.

Only UAE nationals qualify for the category of senior citizen cards as expatriates will not be issued this card. However, students and special needs discount cards are available for all nationalities. Applicants who qualify for the special categories of cards will have to apply for Nol Blue Card which is a personalised card with the photo of the users. The cost of the Blue Card is Dh70 including Dh20 credit and it can be recharged online, through banks and at the metro and bus stations.

"We will gradually introduce more categories of cards including monthly passes and seasonal passes to further facilitate the regular commuters of public transport," said Mohammad Al Mudharrab, director of Automated Cards of Transportation Systems at the RTA.

He asked the commuters to inform the RTA if they encountered any technical issues while the fare collection system was upgraded.

He said that the RTA has so far sold 2.7 million Nol cards including 92 per cent of Silver Nol Cards.

The RTA, currently, offers four types of Nol Cards including the Nol Silver Card for economy class, Nol Red Card, Nol Gold Card for travel in the gold class (VIP) compartment of the Metro and Nol Blue Card, a personalised card with photo.

Jebel Ali station to open

At least one of the three remaining stations on the Red Line will open next month and will help people working in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, said a senior official.

Ramadan Abdullah, Director of Operations at the Rail Agency of the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said that the Jebel Ali Industrial Station will hopefully be opened in March as they are finalising arrangements to transport passengers from the Metro station to the Jebel Ali Free Zone. He said the formal announcement regarding exact date of the station opening will be made soon.

Once opened thousands of employees in the Jebel Ali Free Zone will benefit from the new station.

Currently, the total number of operational stations on the Red Line is 26 out of a total of 29. Energy, Jebel Ali Industrial and Jebel Ali Free Zone Stations are yet to be opened.

How often do you use the Metro? Will this new initiative encourage you to use public transportation more? Which type of card would suit you like them to offer in the future? Tell us by posting a comment below.