By Shafaat Ahmed www.khaleejtimes.com
DUBAI — Promoting the culture of public transport in the emirate, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has embarked upon a multi-pronged strategy which apart from targeting common people is focusing on getting employers — both private as well as government — on board.
As a result of infrastructure buildup, the Dubai Metro, a modern bus fleet and a marine transport system have been in place.
The authority is now leaving no stone unturned to achieve its target of improving the public transport share from the current 12 per cent to 34 per cent by 2020.
Apart from offering basic conveniences and facilities, like a wide network of free feeder bus services, rewards and loyalty programmes for regular users of mass transit system etc, one of RTA’s main policies is to strike deals with big employers enabling them to use public transport for commuting their employees to and from offices.
RTA’s Dh100 million deal with Emirates airline which took effect earlier this month is a result of the same strategy. According to the three-year deal, RTA’s buses will transport 15,000 Emirates employees.
The authority has now concluded a precursor to a similar deal with the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development and is negotiating more such contracts with several public and private firms.
“We have a public transport system, which is best in the world in terms of quality and technology, so we want more people to take advantage of it. Public Transport culture in Dubai is still very weak and trying to take right steps in making it strong,” said Essa Abdul Rahman Al Dosari, CEO of Public Transport Agency at RTA.
“We are planning to reduce the number of single occupancy cars from roads and get more people on board our mass transit system and that is why we are targeting companies like Emirates, which has a huge workforce of 15,000 employees. Our contract with Emirates means 15,000 cars will be off the roads,” he added.
By strengthening the culture of public transport, RTA is trying to get as many private vehicles off the road as possible, which apart from improving traffic on road and reducing congestions has environmental and social benefits as well.
The RTA’s latest agreement with Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development also has the potential to have a similar effect.
Though according to the deal the Public Transport Agency will, for now, only act as a consultant to the Establishment and assist in working out a plan for deploying buses to transport their employees. The agreement can later on give way to hiring RTA buses to commute the Establishment’s employees to and from offices.
Dosari stressed the need to involve all official and semi-official government departments and private businesses in supporting RTA’s efforts to expand and upgrade the coverage of public transport network to cover all streets, roads and districts of Dubai.
“By signing this agreement with the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development, the Public Transport Agency is seeking to hit a number of strategic goals and objectives. We will carry out studies and surveys to identify mobility obstacles facing employees of the Establishment in their daily travels, and make joint efforts to figure out practical and effective solutions,” stated Al Dosari.
In the same context, Dosari said the deployment of dedicated buses to commute employees from their residences to workplaces and vice versa will greatly reduce the number of private vehicles on Dubai roads.
“Public Transport Agency is undertaking joint educative and awareness campaigns targeting employees of companies and establishments to educate them on the impact of using private vehicles on the traffic in general and the environment and society in particular”. — firstname.lastname@example.org