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 Willingness to innovate sets Dubai apart for urban mobility projects

Smartmobility for theUAE

Dubai is taking a different approach to break free of the mobility constraints for increased urbanisation, according to Arthur D Little. Ralf Baron, Thomas Kuruvilla, Morsi Berguiga, Michael Zintel, Joseph Salem and Mario Kerbage tell us why

systems while differentmodes were often developed in competition with each other.Mobility needs to be addressed as a holistic systemin which all the components work together. An emerging leader in applying this type of


approach is theMiddle East with its fast-growing urban centres, such asDubai. These countries have the potential to drivemajor development and growth initiatives and become top global economic performers in record time.However, to do so, they must catch up with standard urban development issues extremely quickly. A full set of urban-growth challenges stands in the way, including:  Traffic congestion: an average trip inDubai takes 29 per cent longer than it would under uncongested conditions.  Transport safety and security:Middle Eastern cities have high road-traffic death rates, although in some countries the situation is improving.  Public transport cost: public transport is expensive to build –metros can costmillions of dollars per kilometer of track. High usage of private vehicles: the use of public transport inMiddle Eastern cities has yet to become common practice, representing only 14.4 per cent of motorised trips inDubai, for example.  Environmental considerations: transport contributes heavily to urban air pollution and lack of environmental protectionmeasures can lead to disastrous results. According to the ArthurDLittleUrbanMobility Index 2.0 report, which analyses thematurity and

he global rise of urbanisation has put intense pressure onmobility as a core function of an urban area. A classic paradigmemerged in which a transition model was gradually applied to transport

performance of urbanmobility systems around the world, Africa and theMiddle East were the lowest- performing regions, with average totals of 37.1 and 34.1 out of a possible 60 respectively in comparison withmajor cities in Asia andWestern Europe, which scored well above 50. Government and public authorities in theMiddle

East have generally followed one of twomodels when looking for ways of addressing transport challenges.

TRANSITION MODEL The initial approach decision-makers followed was to invest heavily in roads and public transport infrastructure, raising the transport network’s capacity to absorb the greater demand. This “transitionmodel” is inspired by the evolution of transport networks in theWestern world, where it tookmore than a century to build, develop and maintain advanced public transport networks. Cities in theMiddle East have tried to follow thesemodels and strengthen transportmode offerings in short time frames, often focusing on road and rail networks.Governancemethods are reinforced in parallel through the launch of transport supervision authorities, which havemixed roles covering planning, investment and regulation. While this approach solves short-termurgent

issues, such as congestion, it also faces the risk of not being sustainable enough to address long-term difficulties. Addressing the challenge of congestion solely fromthe supply angle, through investments in traditional transport infrastructure, will not solve the long-termproblems for twomain reasons. Firstly, given the very high (and continually

increasing) growth rates on the demand side, expansion in infrastructure capacity will not be enough. For example, road capacity inDubai

 October 2017 /// Environmental Engineering /// 19

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