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Quality Planning in Dubai Public Transport Sector

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Background Information

Public transportation services are vital to any nation’s economic growth and social progress. All countries, whether developed or developing, need appropriate public transportation services for transit users, apparent or latent, who require and value diverse forms of public transport. Public transport entails a conveyance that offers continuing general or special transportation to the members of the public. It excludes transportation services offered by school buses and charter sightseeing services and encompasses various modes such as buses, subways, rails, trolleys, and ferry boats (Belwal and Belwal, 2010). In developed and urbanized societies such as Dubai, an effective transportation system is one of the basic components of the social, economic, and physical structure, and it has to be competitive and attractive to the transit seekers. To be termed effective and efficient, the transport system ought to facilitate safety and rapid guarantee of high service quality standards, follow schedules and utilize resources efficiently.

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Public transport bolsters economies of nations and thus improves the life of communities through offering them with safe, efficient, and cost-effective mobility through easing traffic congestion, saving money, and creating sustainable jobs for the citizens (Walid, 2007). Implementation of quality planning is needed in the public transport sector of any nation so as to provide public transportation links between urban and sub-urban areas. This will result in a shift in the population from urban to suburban areas leading to reduced congestion and other problems such as disparities in land prices. Despite the benefits associated with public transportation, the concept is still not embraced in the Middle East, especially Dubai. However, the need to strengthen public transportation systems recently attained new momentum in UAE, meaning that offering information on quality planning in the public transport sector in Dubai so as to control congestion and its associated effects is timely and of great significance.

1.2 Research Problem

The mobility of people is fundamental to their ability to participate in society. With rapid urbanization, the need for transportation systems has increased in Dubai yet the inadequate public transport systems of Dubai, accompanied by lack of public transit quality planning strategies is promoting the use of private vehicles. For instance, studies have indicated that Dubai has experienced a significant increase in its individual private vehicle population over the last few decades (Vickrey, 1969). In spite of this, the public transport system did not expand at a comparable rate and this phenomenon has resulted in very high congestion levels all over Dubai. Another aspect that complicated the problem is lack of quality planning in transit systems, which makes Dubai to rank among the places with immense congestion problems across the globe. Among the many negative effects associated with the congestion problem include the drain on the existing resources such as cost of not fully occupied buses and more employees and bus drivers.

Studies by the World Bank have indicated serious capacity gaps in the urban and rural transport infrastructure of not only Dubai but also in other UAE countries. Addressing such gaps can help in promoting economic growth, regional integration, quality of life, and creation of employment opportunities, besides the control of accidents in the city. Though there have been developments, 72% of the UAE emirates (Dubai included) still feel that the public transport system is inadequate and are frustrated with prolonged waiting times due to congestion. A proper analysis of the perceptions or views of the citizens on public transport services could aid in assessing the perception about, and readiness towards, the adoption of public transport (Button and Keeler, 1993). Congestion results to slow down transportation, longer journeys and waiting times for users and increases operating expenditure by operators. Implementation of quality planning in Dubai’s public transport sector would help alleviate these problems and enhance efficiency in the sector that will translate into increased economic growth.

1.3 Hypothesis

It is hypothesized in this study that through proper quality planning in the public transport sector in Dubai, the problem of congestion will be mitigated, efficiency in public transport will be enhanced, and this will result in improved economic growth.

1.4 Research Questions

This research paper intends to offer comprehensive information concerning congestion in public transport in Dubai. An exploration of the consequences of congestion in Dubai will be done so as ascertain appropriate quality planning strategies that can be instituted to address the problem. The guiding research questions for this study entail the following;
1. What are the main causes of congestion in Dubai’s public transport sector?
2. How has congestion in Dubai’s public transport sector affected people and Dubai’s economy in entirety?
3. How can congestion as a problem in public transport sector be alleviated through implementation of quality planning?

1.5 Research Objectives

The overarching aim of this research paper is to study and analyze public transport sector in Dubai by focusing on the problem of congestion, its effects on people’s social and economic life, and then postulate quality planning strategies that can be instituted to enhance safety, efficiency, flexibility and cost-effectiveness in Dubai’s public transport sector (Tuomi, 2005). The paper assesses the most vital factors affecting the operation of public transport systems within the city of Dubai. This will form the baseline for developing and implementing efficient and quality planning stratagems to enhance the efficacy in operation of public transport in Dubai. The specific research questions for this paper include the following;
1. To determine the main causes of congestion in public transport in the city of Dubai.
2. To establish the effects congestion in public transport has had on people and Dubai’s economic progress.
3. To suggest how implementation of quality planning can be used to alleviate congestion in Dubai’s public transport sector.


1.6 Significance of the Study

The drive towards a descent public transport system in Dubai is not baseless as it can aid in ameliorating the transit difficulties faced by the public in the city of Dubai. The paper provides information on how quality planning strategies can be implemented to help in supporting citizens in commuting as well as offer a safe mode of transportation to residents, as well as meet broad social, industrial, environmental, and national requirements (Clarke, 2007). The paper sheds more light on why further economic development brings great pressure on the city’s road network leading to greater burden of traffic congestion. The study offers information on strategies that can be implemented to control public transport congestion, and acts as a spring board for future research by scholars, strategic planners in the public sector so as promote efficiency in public transport.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

Many researchers globally have proposed various methodologies that can be implemented to manage congestion in transit systems globally. Infrastructure that is well established is the key requirement for driving economic growth meaning that for Dubai to keep up with the increasing demands required of the existing infrastructure, components need to be planned carefully (Belwal and Belwal, 2010). Dubai is investing heavily in several infrastructure projects to offer the framework for boosting their economic growth. Dubai has already exceeded its traffic capacity, causing huge jams every day during peak times, and is yet unable to keep up with the continuous construction of new bridges and roads.

2.2 Main Causes of Congestion in Dubai’s Public Transport Sector

The transport means are viewed as one of the main significant trade elements that enhanced the prosperity of commercial activity in Dubai, as the construction of the highways that link the city to other metropolises in UAE, together with the construction of modern seaports such as Port Rashid and Jebel Ali Port in addition to Dubai International Airport, have augmented the possibilities of commercial activity and made Dubai one of the important transportation and shipping centers in the region (Vickrey, 1969). Based on this assertion, congestion in the city of Dubai has become a concern and ought to be analyzed so as to identify its major causes and how implementation of quality planning can aid in combating it.

The U.A.E has excellently constructed modern road network connecting each emirate to another, as well as to neighboring Gulf countries. Dubai experiences traffic congestion around bottlenecks and is constantly upgrading its road network. Public transport in Dubai is limited to buses and unfortunately the bus system is not fully established yet. In the streets of Dubai once can observe crowded buses serving few routes. Changes in management styles, quality planning, consumer rights legislation, contractual obligations among other factors have been identified as core issues influencing the efficacy of service delivery in the transport sector within Dubai city. It is worth noting that Dubai has an established network of buses, that is managed by the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) and the bus routes span the whole length and breadth of 3885 square kilometers area of the Emirate of Dubai (Button and Keeler, 1993). There are many reasons why Dubai residents suffer from traffic congestion as many of them spend hours stuck in traffic in the city every day.

The rapid growth of population in Dubai is one the main causes of traffic congestion. As a result of this, the number of motor vehicles owned has increased and this is coupled by the increase in commercial vehicles such as trucks which move slowly leading traffic jams. The problem of traffic congestion in Dubai is compounded by the fact that existing roads have outgrown their capacity. In spite of the massive economic growth in the emirate, internal road network are unable to absorb large fleets of new vehicles that are being added annually. Dubai’s growth has brought with it traffic congestion due to various constraints that it should have handled many years back. The planning and structure of transport infrastructure was poorly done; city planners built few overpasses across the Sheikh Zayed Road, which ends up forcing cross-town and local traffic onto the highway.

Another major instigator of traffic congestion is the aspect of reckless driving that result in accidents that kill hundreds of people in Dubai each year. Studies have indicated that reckless driving causes 38% of UAE traffic accidents and that the death rate on Dubai’s roads (64%) is more than quadruple that of Britain. The construction of the highway in Dubai with roundabouts at the intersections is also an example of the factors causing traffic congestion, especially during peak or rush hours. All this menace can be eradicated by implementing quality planning in design of roads, highways, roundabouts, and intersections so as to avoid traffic congestion and enhance efficiency in Dubai’s public transit sector (Tipping, 1968).

2.3 The Effects of Traffic Congestion in the City of Dubai

Traffic congestions in Dubai have immense negative effects which translate into inefficiency in operations and reduced economic growth. Quality planning mechanisms that could entail application of control measures such as regulations, stop signs and other measures ought to be instituted to curb the congestion menace on all transportations modes and routes. Congestion on public transport routes in Dubai results in delays on roads making people to waste time, reach at their places of work late, thus leading to the overall decline in their economic productivity (Tuomi, 2005). Delays in the transportation of perishable products could lead to their destruction and result in losses to the business people or provision of low quality products to the final consumers. Traffic jams reduce working time that can be saved and put to some other productive use and create real benefit to the economy.

Surveys conducted during a research on people’s perceptions on the effects of traffic congestion indicated that if working time is saved and converted into leisure time, then there is a benefit to the individual concerned and one could value this theoretically, at the rate appropriate to that person (Worku, 2013). Congestion in the public transport sector is a menace in Dubai and has resulted in parking problems within the city center and when people get places to park, they delay to get home from work. Congestion makes it difficult for individuals to arrive at their different places of work in time making them less productive than expected. The aggravation that people develop as they drive through traffic jams in Dubai makes them to engage in accidents that result in loss of lives.

2.4 Implementation of Quality Planning to Curb Traffic Congestion in Dubai

Quality planning means forecasts and ascertaining of courses of action to be undertaken within the public transport sector in Dubai have to be strategically instituted. This means that consideration of the internal weaknesses within the RTA against its resources and capabilities ought to be done. This will help in validation and improvement to the public transport system so as to ensure efficiency and effectiveness (Clarke, 2007). More parking slots ought to be created and considerations for policy implications of quality planning be put in place to control traffic congestion. Motorists in congested areas impose on other drivers cause spillover costs which can be controlled by strategic planners, either within RTA or from other governmental agencies.

Among the many quality planning and control mechanisms that can be implemented, special licenses to congested areas during rush hours, increased rush hour parking fees, application of user taxes to a greater extent in rationing or reducing peak traffic and smooth out the flow of vehicles over time and space within the city of Dubai (Bener, 2007). Expansion of highway capacity ought to be considered in the long run as it well help control traffic congestion and ensure that reliability, efficiency and effectiveness of the public transport sector is attained. It is worth noting that in handling the problems of traffic congestion in Dubai, there is need to consider other aspects other than just reducing the waiting time; for instance, there is a need to balance the conflicting interests of many different groups. Developing a comprehensive master plan or strategic direction of how traffic jams can be controlled is vital in this context. Development of alternative modes of transport such as the rail system to relieve the growing motor traffic and support continuing urban development has to be considered as a core strategy (Vickrey, 1969).

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