Dubai has long been facing issues by traffic jams, with gridlocked roads costing the economy upwards of $800 million per year through lost productivity, according to a study by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
To resolve traffic problems, the RTA has adopted a two-pronged approach, introducing smart solutions across Dubai’s public transport network, while also strengthening related infrastructure.
A growing population and the approaching Dubai Expo 2020 event have given the emirate’s efforts added impetus.
Public transport as a share of all travel in Dubai rose from six per cent in 2006 to around 15 per cent last year, the RTA said, putting Dubai in a position so that it can meet a target of 20 per cent by 2020. The Emirate is also looking forward to accelerate the contribution further to 30 per cent by the arrival of 2030.
Technology is undoubtedly executing a growing factor in the study of Dubai’s public transport operations. The initiatives introduced include a system for overseeing traffic signal timings using real-time traffic flow information. CCTV cameras are supporting the drive.
The RTA has launched more than 170 smart services as part of a rollout of traffic apps. One navigation app, Smart Drive, which allows for the sharing of real-time traffic information and route advice in both Arabic and English, is proving popular.
Smart Parking, meanwhile, lets drivers pay online to park, while also providing useful information, such as availability of spaces.
In addition, point-of-sale (PoS) machines have been installed in the majority of taxis in Dubai to facilitate electronic payment, with 8,000 vehicles equipped with the payment solution as of the end of February, according to the RTA.
“With Dubai Expo 2020 on the horizon, transportation infrastructure in the emirate will need to expand significantly in order to successfully accommodate the huge influx of people,” Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder of Careem, one of the leading mobile car-hire services companies in the region, said. “In order to build this infrastructure most efficiently, smart solutions will be key, along with a strong focus on affordability and convenience.”
Organisers are expecting the event to attract around 25 million attendees from around the globe, many of whom – an estimated 70 per cent – will be coming from abroad. Smart solutions will play an important role for providing visitors with travel and transport information for navigating throughout the expo.