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Dubai Metro which opened on September 9, 2009, was one of the landmarks projects of the Roads and Transport Authority.

Dubai: With more projects and initiatives to improve public transport in the city, the Roads and Transport Authority will be celebrating its 15th anniversary on Sunday (November 1), which also marks the 11th Public Transport Day in Dubai.

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Birds eye view of the famous First Interchange along Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai Image Credit: Alvin Jimenez/Gulf News reader

The RTA was established in 2005 by Law No. 17 — 2005 with the mission of developing integrated, sustainable and world-class transportation systems in Dubai. Over the years, it has implemented strategic plans for upgrading the infrastructure of roads, mass transit systems, pedestrian facilities and traffic safety. It has also constructed and operated a host of strategic projects for increasing road networks and public transport services.

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“RTA’s drive has been characterised by focusing on sustainability and bringing about a paradigm shift in public transit services as evident by the construction of the Dubai Metro, Dubai Tram, new bus stations and improved bus and marine transport services. It is also reflected in the construction of roads, bridges and flyovers, the introduction of smart technologies and apps, and the implementation of transport policies to achieve an integrated and sustainable transport system,” noted Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA.

Critical support

Al Tayer also expressed thanks and appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince, Chairman of the Executive Council; and Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, vice-chairman of the Executive Council, for their invaluable support and sustained patronage of RTA’s projects. He noted their support has been critical for the success of the RTA over the past years.

He added: “the RTA is forging ahead with projects and initiatives to improve public transport infrastructure and services, roads and the standard of living in the city. RTA is also endeavouring to drive the smart transformation of customer services and improve its business model.”

RTA achievements

According to the RTA, by the end of 2019, the total length of roads network in Dubai increased to about 18,000 lane-kilometre as compared to 8,715 lane-kilometre in 2006. The number of pedestrian bridges and underpasses also increased sharply from 13 bridges in 2006 to 119 pedestrian bridges and underpasses in 2019. Traffic safety has also improved with road accident-related fatalities from 22 cases per 100,000 of the population in 2006 to only 2.3 cases per 100,000 of the population in 2019. Moreover, the total length of cycling tracks increased from just 10km in 2006 to as much as 425km in 2019.

Al Tayer explained: “These improvements are responsible for placing the UAE as the first country in the quality of roads worldwide throughout the years 2013-2017 and ranked first in the satisfaction index of roads and highways system 2020. The improvements in Dubai’s public transit networks contributed to increasing the share of public transport in people’s mobility from 6 per cent in 2006 to 18 per cent in 2019. RTA has set a goal to push the share of public transport means in people’s mobility to 26 per cent by 2030.”

Metro operation

Citing Dubai Metro in its 11 years of operation, Al Tayer said it has achieved a high assessment rate of over 80 per cent in the safety and security systems from UK’s Office of Rail & Road. Dubai Metro has also lifted around 1.6 billion riders and achieved and registered 99.7 per cent punctuality rate.

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Dubai Metro photo Angelo Santos

“The RTA has accomplished the Dubai Metro project on time despite the economic crises that hit the world at that time. It also completed sophisticated projects such as the Dubai Water Canal, the course of which intersected several vital roads and localities such as the Shaikh Zayed Road, Al Khail Road, Jumeirah and Al Wasl,” Al Tayer underlined.

Bringing happiness to people

Al Tayer added the RTA is working to “improve the quality of urban living.” It has embarked on a master plan for shared and flexible transport and covered non-conventional mobility meansm including shared bikes, cars, scooters and buses on-demand. “Autonomous and individual mobility means are now looming on the horizon,” he added.

The RTA has accomplished the Dubai Metro project on time despite the economic crises that hit the world at that time. It also completed sophisticated projects such as the Dubai Water Canal, the course of which intersected several vital roads and localities such as the Shaikh Zayed Road, Al Khail Road, Jumeirah and Al Wasl

- Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer

Customers happiness is also major thrust with RTA rendering services more accessible such as Hala e-hailing taxis, which slashed the waiting time for taxis from 12 minutes to 3.5 minutes. The RTA also launched ferry service between Dubai and Sharjah, the smart taxi (Tech Taxi) offering unique technologies, and the chatbot Mahboub through its website and WhatsApp.

“Over the past years, the RTA succeeded in adapting to government changes and directions such as the migration to the smart city, smart mobility based on autonomous vehicles, the fast adaptation to challenges and changes, resetting of priorities and benefiting from the existing resources,” added Al Tayer.

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The newly opened unique four-way footbridge located in Dubai Marina, bridge has four escalators linking all sides at busy junction. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Expo 2020 readiness

Al Tayer confirmed the RTA had accomplished most roads and transport construction projects listed under the master plan for hosting Dubai Expo 2020. He enumerated: “Last July, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, officially inaugurated Route 2020 for extending the Red Line of Dubai Metro 15km from the Jebel Ali Station to the site of Expo 2020.

RTA completed all phases of Roads Leading to Expo Project, which included the construction of intersections on Expo Street, improving the intersection of the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road and Expo Street, besides constructing entry points for Expo area from the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, and intersections of Expo Street with the Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan Street. It also completed the construction of the intersection of the Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan Street with Al Yalayes Street at Dubai Investment Park as well as the intersection of the Emirates Road with Expo Street. Earlier, RTA completed the improvement of the Airport Road to accommodate the anticipated growth in the number of passengers using the Dubai International Airport.

“RTA is currently working on the construction of permanent bus stations/stops to serve Expo 2020. It covers 17 stations/stops including the recently opened Ghubaiba Station, Jaffiliya and Union Stations and the bus station connected to Etisalat Metro Station. The plan encompasses the procurement of 614 buses and six temporary stations/stops for serving Expo. Two of them are in Dubai Silicon Oasis and the International City, and the other four are in the Dubai Maritime City, Palm Jumeirah, Business Bay 1, and Al-Meydan,” he added.

Future Mobility

The RTA is on track with the Dubai Self-Driving Transport Strategy that is aimed at converting 25 per cent of total mobility journeys in Dubai to smart self-driving journeys by 2030.

Al Tayer said RTA is cooperating with leading technology firms worldwide in carrying out tests on various types of vehicles, autonomous mobility means, and future mobility means. It started the trial run of an autonomous electric 10-seater vehicle, and the first air taxi capable of carrying two persons.

The RTA also carried out trials on other future modes of transport such as the wireless charging of buses, electric buses, and environmentally-friendly Abras. RTA is commissioning studies on shared transit future modes such as individual mobility means, and micro-electric vehicles.

More cycling tracks

The RTA is keen on making Dubai a bicycle-friendly city. It has marked on the construction of cycling tracks in several areas across the emirate. The total length of tracks constructed so far is 425 kms and RTA intends to extend them further to as much as 688km by 2025.

COVID-19 response

Al Tayer noted: “theRTA quickly adapted to the National Sterilisation Programme during the COVID-19 lockdown and switched smoothly to a remote working mode, which is credited to the high operational readiness of RTA’s technological infrastructure. The RTA maintained its business continuity as usual and went about the completion of its projects on schedule.”