x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Making people swap their cars for public transport is difficult, but not impossible

Dubai Municipality throws its weight behind the annual car-free day in Dubai, set for February 19, that aims to cut the number of vehicles on the emirate’s roads and spread awareness about global warming.

Commuters opt for the metro, leaving their cars at home in the interest of lowering pollution on car-free day in 2012. Razan Alzayani / The National
Commuters opt for the metro, leaving their cars at home in the interest of lowering pollution on car-free day in 2012. Razan Alzayani / The National

DUBAI // Driving to work in peak-hour traffic is slow, frustrating, stressful … and completely unnecessary, municipality chiefs say.

“These days we have many options when it comes to public transport,” said Hussain Lootah, director general of the municipality.

“The metro offers great convenience to many key communities, and soon we will have the tram as well.”

Mr Lootah was promoting the annual car-free day in Dubai, on February 19, that aims to reduce carbon emissions from traffic, cut the number of vehicles on the emirate’s roads and spread awareness about global warming.

“It’s not just about the carbon footprint of one day,” he said. “It’s a day to educate people about the effects of carbon emissions on many factors, including the environment and our health, and getting them to change their lifestyles.”

Last week Mr Lootah told the Dubai-Hamburg 2014 business forum in Germany that measures should be taken to reduce the number of cars in the UAE.

“This city is growing very fast and everyone is buying their own car,” he said. “If we keep going in this direction we’ll just have roads and bridges everywhere.

“There should be a study and report on how to best implement controls, to look at restrictions based on salary, size of the family or where they work.

“It is time to think about ownership laws, and it should be done at the national level.”

Staff at 61 government and private companies have committed to leaving their vehicles at home for car-free day.

Last year 27 companies and departments took part, with 5,000 employees using public transport to reach their workplaces, saving more than 14 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

This year the target is to get 7,000 cars off Dubai’s roads, saving 20 tonnes.

Mr Lootah said the municipality had 200 employees who commuted to work each day using public transport. It encourages them by handing out Nol cards and reimbursing their costs.

“This initiative is not just about Dubai Municipality, it’s for everyone,” he said.

To further promote the use of public transport, the Roads and Transport Authority has launched the “One Day in Dubai” initiative, a fare-saving package that allows passengers to use the metro, buses and abras on a tour of the city.

malkhan@thenational.ae