Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RT A. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News

Dubai: Vehicle registration and renewal fees may increase significantly in future if a proposal to regulate use of cars in the country is approved, say traffic authorities.

According to the proposal, which was discussed during the Smart Mobility session on day one of the second Government Summit on Monday, federal and local authorities are considering ways to ease growing traffic congestion with restrictions on use of cars.

“Our idea is to encourage people to use public transport and reduce the number of cars on the roads. In UAE there is a car for every two people, which is a very high ratio. One way to control this is to introduce legislation which can make buying cars difficult,” said Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the board and executive director of RTA, who was one of the panellists at The Future of Transportation: How Smart Mobility will shape Cities of Future session.

He pointed out that Dubai has spent Dh7 billion in infrastructure since 2005 but has also put in place tools like Salik road tolls to discourage people from using cars.

The RTA is now looking at other options to reduce car dependency.

“I agree with the proposals completely. I think the government has spent enough on infrastructure and have made the right modes of transport for people to move freely. The public transport system is continuously expanding and the roads are getting better, but the situation on the roads is not getting much better, so it’s about time we introduce legislation and rules to discourage use of cars and one of [the ways] is increasing registration fees,” said Ahmad Hashim Behroozian, CEO of RTA’s Licensing Agency, speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of the summit.

He said the proposal has been under discussion for some time and he hopes it gets approved not just at the Dubai level but at the federal level.

As of December 2013, the number of vehicles registered in Dubai alone was 1,240,931, up from 1,137,748 during the same period in 2012.

“The numbers reflect an increase of more than 100,000 per year, which is way too high for a small city like Dubai with a population of 2.5 million. The population of the city is growing fast and before it’s too late, we have to take some concrete action,” added Behroozian,

However, a sustainable transportation expert in Dubai said the country may not yet be ready for such legislation.

“Reducing traffic is really important as it has a positive impact on environment but the measures adopted should be carefully chosen. There is no doubt Dubai and UAE have done a lot over the last years in infrastructure and public transport development but I guess it is still not enough. Restrictions should not be introduced before providing reasonable alternatives to people, both at the local and national level,” Professor Bassam Abu Hijleh, Dean of Engineering and IT at British University in Dubai, told Gulf News.

Speaking at the same session, Professor Brad Templeton gave an insight into the future of cars that could actually increase their numbers.

“In a few years from now, the way we use cars will be totally revolutionised like what happened to the use of mobile phones. We will see cars that will drive themselves, cars that will act as delivery boys and do much more,” said Templeton, who is a chair of networks and computing at Singularity University, USA.

What he called robocars, “are already here and they are improving every day and soon they will do all the stuff that humans want them to do and they will be more efficient and at the same time help improve safety on roads,” he added.