RTA to extend marine transport network to 450 km around Dubai

Dubai: Passengers will be able to use Nol cards to pay their taxi fares from early next year, a senior Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official announced at the 37th Interferry conference, which opened on Monday at Grand Hyatt hotel in Dubai.

The three-day conference and exhibition was inaugurated by Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai.

The Automated Fare Collection system (Nol) which currently serves to make payments for Metro, buses, water buses and parking facilities will be extended to taxis as well, said Eisa Abdul Rahman Dossari, CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency (PTA), speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of conference.

He said the decision to introduce the system has already been approved by the RTA’s higher committee and technical details now are being worked out. “We are working out the technical details and studying various options to implement the system on taxis and we should be able to start the service by early next year,” Al Dossari said.

He said that the convenience of commuters was behind the move to introduce Nol card payment for taxis. “We will leave options open for the commuters, if they want to pay by Nol or cash, they can do it. We will even start a credit card payment system soon on taxis, which is already available on water taxis,” he added.

He said that the next phase of the initiative would see Nol payment being extended to water taxis as well but no timeframe has been set for such a move.

The Interferry conference saw around 350 international delegates coming together to discuss best practices related to public transport and the future of the marine transportation industry. A thought-provoking keynote address by Andreas Chrysostomou, chairman of the Marine Environment Protection Committee, International Maritime Organisation, set the tone for the discussions.

Presenting the RTA’s master plan for transport and infrastructure in Dubai, Nasser Abu Shehab, director of the Strategic Planning Department at RTA, said that Dubai is deploying a multi-pronged strategy to promote the shift to public transport. Efforts in this direction will include building infrastructure, raising awareness, and framing appropriate policies and legislation, etc.

“RTA has spent Dh75 billion in building the infrastructure and public transport system over the last five years and we are spending more over the next 10 years. Our target is to increase the share of public transport from the current 11 per cent to 20 per cent by 2020 and marine transport is a vital part of our plans,” Abu Shehab said.

He said the RTA has plans to develop the marine transport network to around 450 kilometres over the next decade around the creek and coastline, effectively doubling its current size.

Similarly, the Metro network will also be extended to 320 kilometres by the end of 2030, while bus routes will more than triple over a decade from the current 800 kilometres to 2,500 kilometres.

Around 350 delegates from around the world are participating in the conference and, over the next two days, the event will see a host of experts presenting technical papers and other presentations.

The conference, which is being hosted for the first time in the Middle East, concludes on October 24.