Transport industry experts say country’s flexible mobility options far below global standards
With billions of registered users, travel sharing applications like Uber, BlaBlaCar, Olacabs and Rideshare have become very popular in the US and European nations. However, international experts in the mobility industry and owners of ride-sharing companies opined that flexible mobility options in the UAE are “far below the global standards”.
David Plouffe, senior vice-president of policy and strategy, Uber, US, said: “The city (Dubai) will be hosting World Expo in 2020, but from a transport standpoint, they are still far below the global standards. There is a need for more flexible mobility options in Dubai.”
He was speaking at a session titled ‘What the rise of the sharing economy means for transport’ at the International Transport Forum 2015 in Leipzig, Germany, that concluded recently.
The three-day conference addressed pressing issues such as emissions from the transport sector, impact of ride-sharing, road deaths, autonomous vehicles and under-utilisation of sustainable forms of transport. Shared transport is the practice where travellers share a vehicle either simultaneously (ride-sharing) or over time (eg. car-sharing or bike-sharing). In the process, riders share the cost of the journey.
Shared transport is increasing in importance and is a key strategy for reducing greenhouse gas and other emissions from the transport sector.
Carpooling is highly regulated in the UAE and is possible only if certain criteria set by governing bodies such as the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) Dubai and the Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi are met.
Founder and CEO of BlaBlaCar, Frederic Mazzella, told Khaleej Times: “We will eventually enter the Middel Eastern market. BlaBlaCar is great for users who want to travel inter-city.
The minimum-maximum travel time must be between two to five hours. In the beginning, the hardest part is to explain the concept of ride-sharing to the people and the governments. We always face adversity in the sense that most people say, it won’t work out, it is not practical, etc.”
José Viegas, secretary-general, International Transport Forum, said unlike taxis and other forms of public transportation, ride-sharing is a market-breaking movement and it will take time to get accepted.
Benefits of ride-sharing
Uber began testing in the UAE in 2013 and is now fully operational in Dubai. Though statistics of users in Dubai were not revealed, Uber has a little over 3,500 followers on its Twitter page @Uber_Dubai.
Enormous benefits have been recorded from the use of travel share apps like BlaBlaCar, which is a community marketplace that connects drivers with empty seats to passengers looking for a ride. Over 2 million people use BlaBlaCar every month, creating an entirely new, people-powered transport network.
Mazzella said the world was spared about 1 million tonnes of carbon emissions since the inception of BlaBlaCar in 2006.
“Apart from environmental benefits, 75 per cent of the drivers using BlaBlaCar reported that they avoid using the phone while driving, they are less subject to road rage, are more alert, and feel more responsible when they are ride-sharing.”
Copyright © 2015 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).