Dubai: Dubai’s plans to enhance the sustainable transport sector, including making 25 per cent of all trips driverless by 2030, were showcased during the 10th Dubai Award for Sustainable Transport (DAST) on Wednesday.
The award recognised various achievements by government, private and academic sectors in transport sustainability, safety, efficiency and accessibility, among other criteria. Winners included establishments as well as individuals.
The winners were awarded by Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation and president of the National Olympic Committee.
Organised by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai, the award was held under the auspices of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
During the awards ceremony, videos showed RTA’s sustainable initiatives, both existing and planned.
The need for sustainability is greater now as traffic and pollution are rising — a video noted it is estimated that by 2050, cities will see a doubling of traffic while carbon emissions will rise by 70 per cent.
In Dubai, the RTA is extending the emission-free Dubai Metro, the world’s longest driverless rail, by 15km for Expo 2020. It also plans to increase the number of hybrid taxis by 50 per cent by 2021.
Also rolling out are Tesla electric driverless cars, in addition to other autonomous pods and vehicles.
Moreover, by 2021, the RTA aims to have 500km of cycling and pedestrian tracks in Dubai. The skies over Dubai will also see pilotless air taxis transporting passengers.
Accessibility for people of determination is another priority for Dubai, a video outlined. Speaking at the ceremony, guest of honour Victor Calise, commissioner at New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, said Dubai has been making “impressive” progress in accessibility.
The tactile guides for the blind in Dubai Metro stations, for instance, have been adopted by the New York City subway, Calise added.
He said like Dubai, New York also aims to be the world’s most accessible city. Calise said key to meeting that aim is accessibility in transport, which “touches everyone, everyday”, which is especially true for people with special needs. Illustrating his point by mentioning the evolution of car, Calise said the “reality is that 20th century technology almost never considered disability access”, adding “today, we can change that … right these wrongs”.
He outlined several initiatives of New York City for people of determination, such as tandem bicycles and tricycles for persons with difficulty in movement; special signals for pedestrians with poor vision; wearable technology that warns when it is unsafe to cross; and other solutions.
The number of participants in DAST grew 30 per cent since 2017, now numbering over 700.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s ceremony, Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the board of executive directors of RTA, said the increase in participation “illustrates the growing importance of the award among the business community as well as the public and private sectors. It depicts the keen attention of these parties to have a role in enriching and broadening the scope of sustainable transport in the UAE, especially Dubai”.
In the transport safety category, the first place winner was Gulf Pinnacle Transport, a school bus transport provider in the UAE. Speaking to Gulf News after the win, Ganesh Sivaraman, senior vice-president of Gulf Pinnacle Transport, said the firm worked with school administrators to identify all safety risks in school transport and develop safety initiatives “above and beyond” the minimum measures mandated by law.
For example, he said, the company has addressed the two main causes of accidents — drivers rushing because they are late and driver fatigue.
To prevent rushing, the company’s control room gets an alert (as soon as the school bus is turned on) if a driver is late. It is re-emphasised to the late driver to ensure speed limits and all traffic rules are obeyed. Regarding fatigue, the company monitors the driving hours of drivers, who are not allowed to exceed their limits. A driver nearing his or her limit is replaced with another, more rested driver.
DAST 2018 first-place winners
Mobility Management: Al Futtaim Engineering & Technologies
Mobility Safety: Gulf Pinnacle Transport
Environmental Conservation: Enoc Retail
People of Determination-related Initiatives: Integrated Transport Centre, Abu Dhabi
Best Academic Research: Dr Khowla Al Kaabi, UAE University
Best Student Project: Rahul Vijay, Manipal University Dubai