Mohammed Bin Rashid reviews new electronic initiatives introduced by RTA to upgrade mass transport

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    HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum reviewed several electronic projects, systems and programs introduced by Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to uplift the service of public buses with the aim of providing public transport users with a smooth transit to any destination in Dubai such that public buses will be the favourite means of mobility and first choice commuters.

    Projects reviewed included Journey Planner initiative known as ‘Wojhati’, Automated Bus Management project, Automatic Fare Collection card (AFC), Instant Passenger Information System, Sharekni, and Awselni.

    HH also reviewed Drivers Training and Testing Simulator introduced to enhance the qualification of drivers, as well as Payment of Parking Fees through Mobile Phone scheme, which will be introduced next May.

    HH also checked the results of applying the Flashing Green Light Signal system; which had been generalized to all key intersections in the emirate and contributed to a drastic cut in the number of fatalities resulting from red signal jumping accidents by 75% in 2008.

    HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was impressed with the new systems and programs, and directed to comply with the timetables set for introducing these technologies.

    HH also directed to proceed with the application of modern technologies to all fields of roads, traffic and transport systems in order to ease mobility, upgrade safety, and preserve the lives of road users.

    Journey Planner:

    H.E. Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of RTA, said:

    ‘RTA is keen to deliver top-class services to users of mass transit modes and encourage the transition of individuals from using private vehicles in their daily moves to mass transit modes. For this end RTA is embracing an integrated package of comprehensive systems and programs to facilitate and encourage the use of public buses.’

    He added, ‘Among these projects is the Journey Planner ‘Wojhati’ system, which provides all information required by mass transit modes users such as trip fare, easiest method of reaching destination, the presumed walking distance before accessing the first point of using public transport, and the presumed walking distance after arriving at the nearest point to the required destination of the user. The system explains the number of bus interchanges available in certain locations, bus schedules, bus route maps and destinations, and all information related to bus stops along the journey route. The program has been designed to cover the whole emirate of Dubai, and users can inquire after mass transit modes, means of using and accessing the service, and destinations provided under the system.’

    Automated Bus Management:

    Al Tayer elaborated on the AFC project and said, ‘The system provides the possibility to use smart cards instead of paper tickets, saves the operational costs, creates multiple fare products and segments to suit all demands, and makes it easy to offer it at various sales points prior to boarding the bus.’

    He added, ‘The Automated Bus Management project aims to deliver sophisticated services at the highest quality standards at all public transport services in the emirate of Dubai. It provides instant tracking of public buses 24 hours a day, and a link-up with buses to ensure the timely arrival to the intended destinations. The system makes it easy to manage buses through a central control unit, where the attending employee can introduce the changes constantly required to run the service on the scheduled time.’

    He stated, ‘Among the vital programs to be launched shortly is Instant Passenger Information System; enabling passengers to know the actual journey schedules at the respective bus stations, bus stops and metro stations. This enables passengers to know the exact bus transit time, as well as the status of the next, belated or rescheduled buses; making it easy to know the exact bus arrival time. This will in turn ease the mobility and provide every comfort to passengers. The Project comprises three phases and encompasses installation of about 1200 display monitors throughout all Dubai Metro Stations, and bus stops of metro station feeder service, as well as other bus stops across the emirate.’

    ‘Employee bus transport service (Awselni); which was launched in June 2008, had attracted 1284 participants served by 16 buses, and the scheme is enjoying a 14% monthly growth rate. The carpooling scheme (Sharekni), which enables individuals to share a single vehicle on their way to their workplaces and back home, has attracted more than 10,000 participants since launched in July last year, and the number of permits issued to for this purpose topped 217 permits,’ he stated.

    Driving Simulators:

    H.E. Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of RTA, pointed out that RTA introduced on a trial basis a driving simulator; the first of its kind in the region, to evaluate the effectiveness of the system of training and assessing the driving abilities of trainees.

    Al Tayer said, ‘The technology used in the system is quite unique and unprecedented worldwide as it the sole system that uses physical vehicles. The vehicle is driven using a steering wheel on a controlled system, with mobile monitors on both sides of the vehicle reflect the driving speed. This technology is different from other driving simulator technologies as it gives the driver a real taste of driving experiment and enables the driver to uplift the standard of training level and assess the performance without risking the life of the driver and others.’

    ‘This technology is quite suitable for training and assessing drivers in accordance with sophisticated standards such as risk management. It can also be assessed and controlled in an integrated environment through using electronic gadgets; which can give the driver guiding instructions, and produce a report on the driver’s road conduct and driving attitudes. Moreover, the system can produce CDs with aerial photos for the vehicle on the road network; which will be useful in giving further instructions to the driver,’ he added.

    Payment of Parking Fees through the Mobile Phone:

    H.E. Mattar Al Tayer announced that as of 3 May 2009, RTA would activate the system of paying parking fees through the mobile phone.

    Al Tayer said, ‘In the initial stage 220 machines will be installed covering Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City. Next August 1547 machines will be installed and the service will cover all parts of Bur Dubai, while 1546 machines will be installed to cover Deira next October.’

    ‘The system is so simple that the user has just to check the parking zone code registered in the payment machine. Then send an SMS to the number 7275 (corresponding to the word PARK) including vehicle number plate, parking zone code, and the required parking period. The system will then send a confirmation SMS to the user and automatically transmit the number plate of the vehicle to the parking superintendent stating that the required fees chargeable to this vehicle have been paid. The electronic offence systems will not issue offence tickets to a vehicle whose parking fees have been paid through the mobile phone. A reminder SMS will be sent to the user 10 minutes before the expiry of the paid period inquiring whether extension of the parking period is required or not,’ said Al Tayer.

    Flashing Green Signals:

    A chart of Programs and Systems in Public Transport.
    A chart of Programs and Systems in Public Transport.

    H.E. Mattar Al Tayer concluded that the flashing green signal system, which had been generalized to all intersections in the emirate, contributed to reducing the red signal jumping accidents by 60%. He noted that relevant offences dropped from 4000 in August 2007 to 1200 in February 2009. Accordingly, the number of fatalities resulting from jumping the red signal dropped by 75% from 9 cases in 2007 to 2 cases in 2008.

    United Arab Emirates: Saturday, April 18 – 2009, www.ameinfo.com