Wednesday, July 23, 2008

RTA legalises car-pooling

RTA legalises car-pooling
By Alia Al Theeb, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: July 22, 2008, 13:11

Dubai: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has legalised car pooling by launching Sharekni, "a share your car service."

The move aims to give people a way to legally car-pool in Dubai and encourages motorists to share rides and cut traffic congestion.

Abdul Aziz Malek, CEO of the Dubai Taxi Agency at the RTA, announced the launch of the free service yesterday in the form of a dedicated website.

"The services comes after extensive field studies carried out by a specialist team in the Public Transport Agency (PTA) in collaboration with a global consulting firm, which found that car occupancy is 1.6 person per one private car and this is one of the factors that is worsening the problem of traffic jams on the streets and roads of Dubai," he said.

Malek said those sharing cars with relatives and friends need not register. RTA inspectors check vehicles only if they suspect that someone is picking passengers up on the road or using their vehicle as an illegal taxi.


He said the those interested in car-pooling should visit the RTA's website to register.

The website offers various options, which includes a search to find drivers or passengers in a certain company or emirate.

The PTA will maintain a database of subscribers and car owners. Residents can log on to either one of the two websites, the dedicated website or the RTA's website, and register to acquire a six-month valid permit and be part of the car-pooling service. Parties may agree a fee between themselves or share costs.

Malek said the maximum number of passengers in one car is four and all their names must be mentioned on the permit.

Currently, RTA inspectors issue a Dh5,000 fine to motorists for car-pooling or running an illegal taxi. The fine is aimed at stopping people from using their cars as illegal taxis. But there have been numerous complaints of motorists being fined while sharing cars with friends and colleagues.

Mohammad Bin Fahad, Acting Director of Planning and Business Development at the PTA, said the initiative will help lower costs commuters incur by using one car for sole use in addition to reducing stress caused by traffic jams especially during peak hours.

He said it will also contribute to reducing emissions from the large numbers of private cars, which means cutting pollution. "The service will also contribute effectively in reducing the phenomenon of illegal taxis, as all passengers in one car will have to be registered and their names mentioned on the permit which the driver will carry."

For car-pooling register at website or the RTA's website

Stress buster

Residents said the service would not only ease traffic on roads but also minimise road rage. Almost all of them agreed it would also lessen the burden on their pockets.

Mohammad Rizwan, a Pakistani, currently car-pools. He said: "Five of us travel from Sharjah to Dubai Media City. All of us hold valid UAE driving licences and own a car. Each one of us takes turns to drive the rest of our colleagues to work every day. In my view car-pooling has lessened the stress level when driving in traffic and getting stuck. We all chit-chat and reach our office in a happy mood."

Avinash G., an Indian computer analyst who lives in Bur Dubai, uses car-pooling to reach his place of work in Jebel Ali.

"There are four of us in the car. A couple of us get off on Shaikh Zayed Road while the rest get off in Jebel Ali. We are all charged Dh150 per month by the driver who runs this service. He is an office boy who after dropping us goes to work. He comes to pick us up after he leaves his work at 6.30pm. I have to wait half an hour after work for him but it's worth the wait. I used to drive and I hated the traffic. I only take my own car out during weekends or to run errands," he said.

Raziya Kazmi, a Bangladeshi who works as a secretary has no intention of getting a driving licence of her own. She lives in Hor Al Anz and has been making use of a car-pooling service run by an office boy. "I have been using the service for two years. I work in Rashidiya. We are charged as per the location of our workplace. For example I pay Dh200 a month, a fellow passenger whose office is on Shaikh Zayed Road is charged Dh250. The public buses are so overloaded and so I prefer car-pooling. It is economical."

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