In a recent interview with Global Mass Transit, Nasser Abu Shehab, Chief Executive Officer, Strategy and Corporate Governance, Dubai RTA, spoke about RTA’s achievements, its top priorities for 2016, and future plans. Excerpts…

What have been the RTA’s main achievements over the past decade?

I am proud to say that, over the last decade, RTA has undertaken and accomplished in a record time several large projects. It has developed a high-quality mass transit system, comprising two fully-automated metro rail lines covering 75 km and 47 air-conditioned stations, the 11-km tram network with catenary free power supply and covering 11 air-conditioned stations. In the last decade, the number of buses deployed has increased from 760 in 2006 to 1,512 in 2015. Moreover, the number of taxis has increased from 6,924 in 2006 to nearly 10,000 in 2015. The modal share of public transport (RTA buses, metro, tram, and marine transport) has increased from 6 per cent in 2006 to 15 per cent in 2015.

What is RTA’s focus towards 2020 and further towards 2025?

RTA will continue to improve Dubai’s transportation system with focus on optimisation and integration. Fostering integration amongst public transport modes, and between those modes and their surroundings will be one of the focus areas in the coming few years.

In this context, RTA has established the “Transportation Integration Section” that has the mandate to integrate transport systems and modes. RTA has completed and launched the “Dubai Transportation Integration Manual”, which was introduced to RTA partners and developers in Dubai in March 2016. The manual sets out the guidelines and requirements of integration at different levels of area/project planning, design and operation, with focus on improving passenger experience within the first and last miles of their trips. The manual will be applied to all new projects, and will be used to improve the level of integration at the current metro and bus stations. 

RTA is also currently working on “Route 2020”, which is a 15.5 km extension of the Red metro line to the Expo2020 site. The line also serves many major developments including the discovery gardens and the green community.

Other key rail projects that will be under consideration in the coming few years include the Red Line extension towards Mirdif City Centre and the Green Line extension towards the Academic City. RTA will also be procuring more trains to meet the fast growing demand on the current metro system, particularly the Red Line, and will expand the bus feeder system to serve the new metro stations. In addition, the bus network will be subject of continuous optimisation and expansion to serve new developed areas. All these public transport efforts will support RTA in achieving a challenging public transport share of 20 per cent by 2020.

RTA’s strategy will also focus on improving services provided to the public. The RTA “smart city” programme, which includes introducing new applications and technologies, will contribute to the achievement of the Dubai Government’s goal related to “people happiness”.

What are the RTA’s top 3 priorities for 2016?

In addition to the rail projects, which include the construction of the Route 2020 and the completion of the Dubai Canal, the RTA will concentrate on delivering on-going roadway projects.

Apart from the infrastructure projects (rail and roads), RTA will update the public bus network, increase awareness of the public transport system through marketing campaigns, and improve the integration of public transport modes among each other and with the surrounding land uses.

In the coming few months, RTA will also finalise project SPD025 “Update of Transportation & Implementation Plans for the Emirate of Dubai”.  This study will provide the medium- and long-term projects (2020 and 2030) covering roads, rail, buses and marine, and will include travel demand management measures.

How is the RTA contributing towards UAE’s vision of sustainability?

The Dubai Metro, which was inaugurated in September 2009, reduces carbon dioxide emissions by over 770 tonnes per day (through the reduction of use of private vehicles and road congestion). The Middle East’s first turnkey tram system, the Dubai Tram launched in November 2014 uses a ground-based power supply system and has also increased the modal share of public transport and reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

RTA has also undertaken trial runs for an electric bus and a CNG-bus. The agency has deployed 17 electric-powered abras (marine transport) fitted with electric motors instead of the traditional diesel motors, as well as CNG-powered abras instead of diesel-powered ones. RTA has also announced its plan to convert 50 per cent of Dubai’s taxi fleet to hybrid cabs by 2021.

The launch of smart applications (apps) at RTA customer care centres in 2014 has resulted in estimated savings of 7 million paper sheets, 250 trees, 14 million km driving distance, 1.4 million litre fuel, and 4 million kg of carbon dioxide emission. These figures are expected to increase yearly as more smart applications are being introduced by RTA.

RTA’s initiatives for green economy derive from the national and local government strategies such as the UAE’s Vision 2021, Dubai Plan 2021, UAE Green Growth Strategy, Dubai Carbon Abatement Strategy 2021, the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, and other related strategies and plans.

(This is Part 2 of a two-part TA/TSO. Part 1 discussed Dubai RTA’s operations, ridership, rolling stock and technology, and capital plans. It was covered in the Global Mass Transit Monthly issue released in April 2016.)