Congestion misery in wealthy Dubai
Dubai, a city-state and jewel in the crown of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is a fast-paced, modern metropolis, and home to thousands of British expats. It also has one of the highest car ownership rates in the world.
Private car ownership is as high as it is simply because of the incredible wealth sloshing about Dubai, Abu Dhabi and some of the other major towns and cities in the UAE. So everyone, naturally, wants to own and drive a car, which leads to high levels of traffic congestion. The problem is further exacerbated by the low use of public transport.
Dubai’s government has been trying to encourage car-pooling in a bid to overcome the problem. The Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) says the shared use of a car, especially for daily commuting backwards and forwards to work can lead to cost savings and reductions in driver stress, as well as having wider socio-environmental benefits.
Private car ownership in Dubai is as high as 541 cars for each 1000 persons, says the RTA, with the average number of passengers in each car as low as 1.3 people. Group transport usage rates are also low, at 7%.
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Getting back to the road situation, this is expected to get much worse, too, with Dubai’s population projected to increase by almost 300% by the end of the decade. Over the same period, private car ownership is also expected to rise, to a staggering 1.5 million vehicles.
In trying to encourage the use of car-pooling within Dubai, the RTA has set itself a number of objectives. These include:
- Reducing overall traffic congestion on the roads
- Reducing peak-hour congestion
- Reducing single occupancy car trips by implementing the car pooling system
- Promoting alternative modes of transport
- Improving parking in areas experiencing parking congestion
- Reducing pollution and carbon dioxide emissions
According to the International Road Federation (IRF), a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation with the mission to encourage and promote development and maintenance of better, safer and more sustainable roads and road networks, the highest car ownership rate in the world is to be found in Luxembourg, where there are 647 cars for every 1000 people. So Dubai is not too far behind.
Surprisingly, Britain and the United States,countries long regarded the world over as the home of the automobile, have fewer cars for every 1000 people than either Iceland, New Zealand, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Australia or even France.