x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Smartphones to double as fare cards for Dubai commuters

The Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai says the new service will be rolled out next year.

DUBAI // A host of new services for commuters was unveiled on the first day of Gitex Technology Week.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said commuters will be able to use their smartphones to pay for the Metro, bus and water bus fares. The new system uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to make the phone double as a Nol card.

To use the service, which will be launched early next year, commuters must first obtain an NFC-compatible SIM card from their telecom provider as well as an NFC compatible phone.

"Most smartphones released in 2012 have the technology," explained Mohammed Al Yousuf Mudharreb, the director of the Unified Automated Fare Collection department at the RTA. "But iPhones, including the iPhone 5, unfortunately do not."

Swiping a phone at a Nol gate will not result in charges to the phone bill; instead the user will have to top up their mobile Nol account online at Nol.ae, at ticket counters, or through the ATMs of approved banks.

The RTA has also launched an application for iPhone and Android smartphone users that allows users to book taxis, check bus schedules, pay parking fees, and even report faults and safety hazards with photo and video attachments through the Madinati service.

The app, called RTA Dubai, is currently available at the Apple and Android App stores free of charge.

Dubai taxi also presented its Smart Taxi project, which is being tested until the end of the year.

Smart Taxis are fitted with two touch-screen tablets that allow passengers to book hotels, make restaurant reservations, find out about movies and events, access an interactive map or surf the web.

malkhan@thenational.ae