By Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter, Gulf News www.gulfnews.com
Dubai: Dubai has become the first city in the region to have an integrated public transport system fully accessible to people with special needs, said a senior official.
“All modes of public transport including the Dubai Metro, public buses, marine transport and even some taxis meet mobility requirements of people with special needs,” said Abdul Mohsin Ebrahim, CEO of the Strategy and Corporate Governance Sector of the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
He said the RTA has prepared comprehensive standards and guidelines to assist planners, engineers and developers to meet mobility requirements of people with special needs.
“Now, people with special needs can move around in most parts of the city without any help and freely access the public transport including buses, the Metro and water buses,” said Ebrahim.
He said the RTA has already launched taxis fitted with equipment to provide an easy ride for wheelchair-bound passengers. “We have modified the walkways and even pedestrian crossings have elevators to help special needs people cross the road,” he added.
The RTA is one of the first entities in the country to apply article No 25 of the UAE federal law No 29, 2006 that requires cities in the UAE to be friendly to people with special needs.
“The RTA is committed to providing safe and smooth transport for all and we are continuously improving the transport and road network following international best practices to incorporate people with special needs,” Ebrahim added.
He said all the government departments and even private buildings and shopping malls have access ramps for wheelchair users. “We are also modifying the footpaths and roads in the older part of Dubai to provide easy access to special needs people,” he explained.
The Dubai Metro’s facilities for people with special needs include tactile floor paths to guide visually impaired people at the stations. All ticket-selling booths are designed to be accessible to wheelchair users.
There are dedicated seating areas for people with special needs. Audio-visual signs have been installed to guide people throughout their Metro journey. There is close-circuit television help for hearing-impaired people and audio notices for the visually impaired.
Special parking spaces have also been provided on all the roads, offices and shopping centres clearly marked for “disabled persons” within close proximity of the doors. Also, the parking is free for cars with disability stickers and they are not charged any Salik toll fee.
The RTA has also reduced pavement heights to help wheelchair-bound people cross the road and provides free parking for people with special needs.