15 February, 2007

Toll roads are coming to Dubai. Is that Salik?

Quoting Gulf News:
From July this year, motorists using Shaikh Zayed Road and Al Garhoud Bridge will have to pay a road toll. As part of the first phase of the introduction of the toll system in Dubai, the stretch of Shaikh Zayed Road, starting from the Fourth Interchange [near Mall of the Emirates] to Al Garhoud Bridge will be a "toll-controlled area."

"The toll system will be called Salik which in Arabic means clear," said Maitha Obaid Bin Udai, Chief Executive Officer of the Traffic and Roads Agency at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

She said Salik has been chosen as the brand name because it reflects the logic behind the toll system, which is to ensure smooth traffic flow.
...
Motorists crossing Al Garhoud Bridge or entering Shaikh Zayed Road from the Fourth Interchange will be charged Dh4 per entry.

The charge will be in both directions and round-the-clock. Toll gates will be installed at both locations. Also, a motorist who enters from Al Garhoud Bridge and exits from the Fourth Interchange and vice versa, will have to pay at both locations.
...
"The main idea of introducing Salik is to reduce congestion and for better traffic management on Shaikh Zayed Road, one of the most crowded highways in the city, and to make motorists use alternate routes and other mode of transportation," said Maitha.
One problem with the logic of this proposal is that it does not take into account time of day. This section of road is more congested at some times and the charge should be higher at those times.

Some will criticize the plan because there are few alternative routes and there is little mass transportation. But you do have the alternative of staying off the road and traveling off peak. Or consolidating your trips. Many people on the road are not commuting to commuting to work or school. There does need to be a midday rush. And there is the alternative of car pooling (to share the toll cost) - except ridesharing is currently illegal!

It's not just Dubai that's looking at tolls to solve traffic congestion problems. See here, and here.

Of course we should keep in mind that what we say we are going to do in Dubai, and what we do do doesn't always match up. Tolls have been promised (threatened?) since March 2005 according to this December 2005 GN story.

26 comments:

Keefieboy said...

The article says that you only pay the toll at the entry/exit points (Mall of the Emirates & Garhoud Bridge). So if you were to join the SZR at Safa Park and trundle up to the Trade Centre you would, presumably, pay no toll. It is worrying that this is slated to be a 24/7 thing, and it's even more worrying that future roads to be added to the scheme are Jumeirah Beach Road, Al Wasl Road, The Parallel Roads and Emirates Road. Meaning that there will be absolutely no toll-free route to get you from New Dubai to Old Dubai. This is not a congestion charge, it's a pure and simple tax.

Anonymous said...

travelling off peak won't make a difference. The toll runs 24/7.

The problem is that they are effectively taxing people who want to use the most direct route through the city.

The fact you have to pay at 3am is a pretty good indication that this is just a revenue raiser.

If they extend the zones to Al Wasl, Emirates, Beach and Al Khail Roads then you'll see a lot of people leaving.

John B. Chilton said...

I disagree that it is a pure and simple tax. The reason is that when some drivers are discouraged (by the tax (smile)) from driving other drivers face less congestion. And time is money.

And you will be discouraged from driving. Maybe not to work, but you will consolidate more trips or travel with friends more often.

Correct anonymous - There is no incentive to travel off peak if the toll is the same on and off peak.

All that said, it would make much more sense -- and be more accepted -- if the off peak rate with lower (or zero). And I don't disagree with the notion that while the UAE claims low/no taxes there are plenty of as-if taxes around.

samuraisam said...

john b. chilton I'd say it's tax too; I can't see any point in tolling drivers at 3 or 4 AM, because there are almost none. I've never seen a traffic jam at 3 or 4 AM. I can't see this being anything but tax; during the day it will obviously help to keep the roads clearer and will hopefully promote car-pooling (even though that is illegal)

trailingspouse said...

And where is the announcement about increasing the number of bus routes/frequency of existing routes?

This strategy is all stick and no carrot as far as I can see.

Robert said...

I've read that they want to encourage alternate road usage, but I hardly think that people just use SZR because they like to and can't stand the thought of being the only car on theoretical alternative roads that are going unused. This will have the effect of pushing traffic to the other roads which are themselves overcrowded at the same time that SZR is so bad. This is intended to line pockets, not to better the traffic situation. That this is intended to be implemented prior to alternatives such as the metro line merely underscore it.

Anonymous said...

Dubai should change it's name to Doomsday

B.D. said...

No mention in the article of what happens when one doesn't bother to stick the sticker on the windshield. Will they be hunted down by officers on patrol at the gates? Will their car plates be photographed for fining? Or will it be based on an honor system?

Photographing car plates might sound like an easy option, but how in fact could that work? When you buy and place the sticker on your car, is it matched to your car plate? The way it is described--that you just pick one up at a petrol station--it doesn't seem to be linked to the car plate. So photographing car plates wouldn't distinguish who has or has not paid for a toll card.

This looks like it's going to be an honour system, and the media dare not state the obvious.

Hatem said...

What if the toll is applied but still no improvement? Do you think they will increase the charge?!

J. Edward Tremlett said...

: P

stupid, stupid, stupid.

John B. Chilton said...

B.D., You are right to be concerned with enforcement. I imagine they will be photographing plates, but is the system sophisticated enough to pick out the cheater from the crowd? What if there are lots of cheaters, won't the system be overwhelmed? And, in general, in Dubai enforcement is always a major issue.

How is the card registered to the car if you buy at a petrol station? Perhaps you enter your registration and mobile number electronically using an electronic kiosk to buy the card.

ArabLady said...

they are willing to come up with all possible ways make ppl pay pay and pay ....tomorrow they will charge us for oxygen

what the hell! its just another source of income for them & it wont solve the traffic problem..

archer14 said...

@arablady ".tomorrow they will charge us for oxygen"

There is a property ad in the newspaper which states "Enjoy the bla bla bla and the free atmosphere".

John B. Chilton said...

arab lady,

For one thing oxygen isn't produced by anyone, but the construction and building of roads are. The question is what is the right price is. The extra hour spent in traffic everyday could be an hour working and earning.

I hardly believe Dubai suckered us here in order to spring a road toll scheme on us. Dubai's success has outstripped the capacity of the road system to deal with it. Some system of peak-time rationing is required -- and the best system is a price system (as the USSR found out the hard way).

The more complex problem is whether a partial toll system like the one proposed is a cure worse than the disease. A point several commenters have made.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this 1 of those BS projects for 2007 ~ 2015 ? by that time I think robots will be handing us our tickets hehehe

Third world countries, they were always a total mess.

every week you hear a new law is being announced starting from this date bla bla bla...

What you're paying for is called TAX TAX TAX

Anonymous said...

You dont like it? LEAVE !

John B. Chilton said...

anonymous r.e. "BS projects." I think you're making two somewhat contradictory points - that it is a tax (not a toll) and that it is going to be delayed (or never happen).

We see this often in the UAE. I call it "the department of never mind". Someone in authority gets the notion the something needs to be changed immediately. A fix is announced with great fanfare and then it never happens -- in cases like this because somebody got cold feet about whether it was either (1) well thought out or (2) a difficult one public relations-wise.

That is what I intimated at the end of my post -- tolls have been talked about for some time and keep getting shelved.

Anonymous said...

It's a tax because no alternative has been offered. The other bridges over the creek will probably not be ready by them, the bus service is still appalling, the metro is two years away and the alternate routes are already creaking.

I honestly see it as them wanting to get something from the people who live in Sharjah and those from Abu dhabi who come up to visit MoE(and therefore in the eyes of DXB, steal their money away by refusing to pay extortionate rents and 'fees')

Those in Sharjah have NO CHOICE but to drive into work, and most of them have NO CHOICE but to use Garhoud Bridge.

If it was genuinely about reducing congestion then 1, it would not operate 24 hours a day. 2, it would have more than just 2 entry points. 3, residents of SZR would get some kind of discount. 4, people who did not register already and casual users(for example, Mr joe bloggs from RAK who comes into Dubai for the day and will get hit with a big fine for not having spent Dh100 and registered for something which will affect his life maybe 10 times a year) would get a short grace period to pay the toll online or over the phone(as in London) 5, DM would have brought in traffic management consultants instead of payment collection experts.

I see a distinct absence of a carrot.

John B. Chilton said...

anonymous wrote If it was genuinely about reducing congestion then 1, it would not operate 24 hours a day. 2, it would have more than just 2 entry points. 3, residents of SZR would get some kind of discount. 4, people who did not register already and casual users(for example, Mr joe bloggs from RAK who comes into Dubai for the day and will get hit with a big fine for not having spent Dh100 and registered for something which will affect his life maybe 10 times a year) would get a short grace period to pay the toll online or over the phone(as in London) 5, DM would have brought in traffic management consultants instead of payment collection experts.

Let's take the points in order:

1. Constant 24/7 toll - Absolutely agree. The toll should vary with time of day (as congestion varies)

2. More than two points - It's arguable that simplicity would have a virtue, but you may be right in the implication that chaos could be created on side streets as folks use the to avoid the toll and then get back on in time to use the bridge.

3. SKR residents should get a discount - If you are saying this b/c they don't have alternatives, they do have alternatives. Move. Or use SKR less frequently.

4. Casual user - Agreed.

5. DM using collection experts rather traffic experts - At one time DM had hired traffic experts who were designing a sophiscated toll system. Does anyone know if they are still working here or were they sent packing?

If you are right that we merely have collection experts I fear all of you are correct that this less than a half baked concept and no one has thought in a careful way how people will respond in terms of their driving choices. A recipe for chaos.

You also wrote It's a tax because no alternative has been offered. The other bridges over the creek will probably not be ready by them, the bus service is still appalling, the metro is two years away and the alternate routes are already creaking.

I disagree. There are still alternatives. Don't live in Sharjah and work in Dubai, don't make as many trips, car pool, form a taxi ride club....

About those come from ABD to the MoE why shouldn't they pay for adding to congestion, and be discouraged from doing so?

About the absence of a carrot, you don't need one to make us all better off by reducing traffic congestion.

Again, at present we are all getting on the road without taking into account that our presence is slowing down everyone else.

samuraisam said...

john:"don't make as many trips, car pool, form a taxi ride club...."

It's actually illegal to carpool etc where money changes hands, so unless someone is going to be generous in your group and pay for all the petrol etc, you are breaking the law.

I'd say there is a lack of understanding between the RTA and common everyday people; they're persecuting people for cutting down on traffic while at the same time trying to give the message that there is a traffic problem.

John B. Chilton said...

Yes, well aware car pooling by sharing the cost is illegal.

THAT is a restraint on trade designed to protect Dubai taxis owned by you know who. Tsk. Protection of a monopoly might as well be tax on the common people.

Anonymous said...

They're going to make big bucks out of the fines starting at 100, 200, 400 etc...

If you go the UK, you'd still see the same roads since 196x, but when you come to visit Dubai the roads are being rebuilt/destroyed every few months, Why ?

Why don't they cancel DSF ? why don't they put a sign for truck drivers to stay on the right just like in AD ?

When will they build a hospital that doesn't look like a central jail ?

Anonymous said...

Mr. John B. Chilton said...
"I disagree. There are still alternatives. Don't live in Sharjah and work in Dubai, don't make as many trips, car pool, form a taxi ride club...."

I assume you are an expert on this traffic situation with all the figure on number ppl staying in sharjah and working in Dxb. No offence but... just a look at the sheer number of cars that come from Shj and Go from Dxb to Shj Dxb. Now, can you imagine the magnitude of traffic jam we could end up with if ppl were to take you advice and move to Dxb. Or perhaps you were thinking that ppl should stay next to their place of work. Once again no offence.. just could fit all those cars in Dxb...

Anonymous said...

Sadly John, people don't live in Sharjah because they like travelling in traffic for four hours a day. They do it because they have no choice.

Remember, the labour ministry's own figures reveal that only 14% of the population of the UAE earn more than Dh10,000 a month.

So the lure of a Dh35,000 apartment in sharjah as opposed to a Dh85,000 minimum 1 bed in Dubai starts to make sense.

John B. Chilton said...

You are all correct that I don't have numbers and a proper simulation model. We don't know what havoc a toll on SZR will have. We do know there are some things about it that surely don't make sense (like, 24/7).

We also know that not using a congestion fee system is not working. The municipality continues to improve roads and bridges, but that will never be enough. A full blown study and implementation of a congestion charge system is needed.

In the meantime a toll on SZR on peak times can be instituted. Don't think of it as something can not be adapted as we in practice what its flaws are.

Anonymous said...

John B. Chilton said...
"In the meantime a toll on SZR on peak times can be instituted. Don't think of it as something can not be adapted as we in practice what its flaws are".
I suppose it would not require some grand analysis or study, just careful obervation of the traffic and plain old common senses should be enough. Why do we have to use a sledgehammer to crack a walnut? For instance almost all cars have just one occupant.....without any additional cost you can reduce the number of vehicles significantly. Increase the number of buses and routes the roads are excellent and could easily handle the buses.

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