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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Abu Dhabi wins best traffic infrastructure award

City ranked first in the international TomTom Traffic Index Award

Accidents throughout the UAE have resulted in heavy traffic on Monday morning. Vidhyaa / The National
Accidents throughout the UAE have resulted in heavy traffic on Monday morning. Vidhyaa / The National

The millions of dirhams poured into improving Abu Dhabi’s traffic infrastructure has not only resulted in better roads and public transportation systems, but also earned the emirate international recognition.

Abu Dhabi placed first in the infrastructure category of the annual TomTom Traffic Index Awards.

“Abu Dhabi has proven that a highly-planned road system that maximises labour mobility and goods movement can bring efficiency and reduce congestion,” according to a summary written by judge Wendell Cox, a transport analyst and principal of Demographia, an international public policy firm in the US. “In fact, the city has one of the best TomTom Traffic Index congestion levels of any city with a population of more than 1 million.”

The TomTom Traffic Index measures congestion levels in 390 cities across 48 countries using live data from smart phones, Apple Maps, Uber, personal navigation devices, car navigation systems as well as data from the emirate’s 520 public busses and 7,000-plus taxis.

With a congestion index of 14, Abu Dhabi tied with Katowice, Poland for having the best traffic index of any city outside of the United States of more than 1 million people, according to TomTom. The measurement indicates that it would take a driver on average 14 per cent longer to reach his or her destination during peak commuting times compared to off-peak times.

“It is among the lowest in the world,” said Ralf-Peter Schafer, TomTom’s vice president of traffic and travel information who presented the award to officials from the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport.

“Congestion levels are growing everywhere in the world and it is really a pleasure to see here in a city of Abu Dhabi that they are doing a very good job managing traffic very well.”

In contrast, Mexico City took the unenviable No 1 spot for most congested city in the world, with drivers requiring 66 per cent extra time to reach their destinations during peak times.

Officials from the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport credited recent roads and public transportation investments for the positive outcome.

"Winning this highly coveted international award, which commands great international attention from the bodies concerned with infrastructure and traffic development around the world, is indicative of the great progress made by the emirate of Abu Dhabi in advancing infrastructure including roads and transport networks and usage of smart transportation technology systems,” Awaidah Murshed Al Marar, chairman of the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport, said in a statement.

Mr Al Marar said Dh581 million has been invested toward improving transport systems projects, traffic management, traffic signals control and other traffic flow improvement projects in the emirate. The Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport is currently carrying out projects worth Dh909 million to improve its traffic and transportation management, he said.

Salah Al Marzouqi, director of the integrated intelligent transportation system for DMAT, said technology has played a significant role in running traffic more efficiently and effectively. The central traffic control centre launched in 2014 to handle roads, as well as recently installed road sensors, traffic cameras, automated “smart” traffic signals and electronic signs all work in sync to keep traffic flowing smoothly, he said.

“That changed the whole system of traffic management in the city of Abu Dhabi,” Mr Al Marzouqi said of the control centre and accompanying high-tech monitoring systems. “It’s not just a matter of infrastructure, you have to put a plan how to operate it in a proper way.”

Live data of the emirate's traffic posted on TomTom's website show that its low congestion index is slowly creeping up. It has risen from 14 to 20 percent this year, likely due to increased population, officials said.

“We have to always keep improving, enhancing the system, enhancing the infrastructure,” said Mr Al Marzouqi.

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