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RTA's new smart system aims to cut taxi queues at major events

STMS will use real-time data from DWTC, malls and other venues to provide transport

RTA's new smart system aims to cut taxi queues at major events
The Smart Time Management System aims to use live data from events to predict how many users will need transport home.

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced a new smart system that is intended to tackle the problem of long waits for transport at major events in the emirate.

The RTA's new Smart Time Management System (STMS) will monitor queues and the number of taxis in attendance at venues, to help RTA managers to provision enough transport and to give users a better idea of waiting times.

Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA, hailed the STMS, which reflects the RTA's plans to realise the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. It also echoes the directives of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, to support the smart city drive and rank Dubai as the smartest city in the world.

"To realise these objectives, the RTA is seeking to deliver services that exceed customers' expectations and make them happier. The RTA is keen to continue improving customer services and reduce the waiting time, in line with the world's top practices," he added.

Al Tayer attended a briefing by Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO of Public Transport Agency, and Mohammed Nabhan, Director of Transport Activities Monitoring, about the smart system for managing waiting times during events.

Speaking to ITP.net, Bahrozyan said that the system has been developed to improve the quality of transport for Dubai's major events, with around 500 such events each year.

"We recognise that transport is a key component in the success of any event. [delays] can take away the shine from any event, so the objective is to address that. From the trials, we are encouraged that the results will be quite effective," he said.

The system comprises a set of interactive screens which will be placed at the start, middle and end of queues, where passengers can request a taxi and specify how many people in their party. This data will then be relayed to RTA managers on site equipped with mobile devices, and to the RTA control centre to dispatch more vehicles as required.

The screens will advise passengers of predicted waiting times, which will allow passengers to decide if they want to wait, or to use alternate transport such as the Metro.

Smart cameras with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) are installed at the entry and exit points of taxi ranks at the venue, so that the RTA also knows the exact number of cabs that are available on site at any time.

The system has been successfully trialled at Dubai World Trade Centre and at Dubai Mall, Bahrozyan said, and full operations will begin in September. The RTA will offer the system to mall operators in Dubai as required.

A mobile version of the system, which will be fitted into a vehicle, will enable the STMS to be deployed at locations that have occasional peak demand, such as Meydan race track for the  Dubai World Cup.

In future, it will be linked with the Smart Transportation Center to serve more than 23 other events.

The RTA team made a series of field visits to event venues in Dubai to receive first-hand feedback and assess customer needs for taxis. The team then conducted a comprehensive study of venues to identify challenges encountered by clients when ordering taxis during events.

Accordingly, the idea of the system was developed and tested for seven days at two events held at the Dubai World Trade Centre. About 12,000 clients benefited from the system at both events, at a rate of 1,700 clients per day. The results of both trials showed a drop in waiting times for taxi riders and an increase in customer satisfaction ratings.

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