28 November, 2007

Speculation over huge Salik expansion

A UAE Arabic newspaper reported earlier this week that the RTA is "conducting a study to put toll gates on other new roads in Dubai".

The article also states that toll gates could be placed on Maktoum Bridge, Shindagha Tunnel, Business Bay Bridge and the Floating Bridge.

It is not the first time reports of an expansion of the Salik scheme have surfaced.

In August Saudi daily Arab News reported that the RTA had started work on new toll gates at eight locations in Dubai, including Shindagha Tunnel, Maktoum Bridge, Floating Bridge, Emirates Road, Al-Khail Road, Nad Al-Hamar Road and Business Bay Bridge.

Related, I've heard that Sheik Mo took a look the blueprints for rail system stations, and rejected them. He wants them to be 5 star stations. Perhaps he's serious about the rail system being attractive to all walks of life. That might be what it takes to make it a success. Another example of thinking big being thinking right?


Keefieboy said...

5-star attractiveness will only work for people who feel comfortable with that: the aim should be 'let's just get the fooking job done.' Sorry Mo.

As for Salik expansion: this was always on the cards...prove its failure on one road, and then splatter it around willy-nilly...it's only a tax after all, but a cynically imposed one. While there is not yet a viable alternative to driving in Dubai, it is a slap in the face to have to pay these charges (if they were presented differently, things might be different). I have to confess that I am as happy as a pig in shit to be in Madrid which has a fabulous Metro and bus system, and I laugh at people who still attempt to drive their cars into the city.

PS: I hope this rejection of the Metro station designs was not of the 'cave' designs as presented on one of the local blogs: I thought those were brilliant and original. The last thing we need/want is a bunch of Metro stations that look like the inside of the Burj Al-Arab!

the real nick said...

I am waiting for the rulers' enlightened vision of how to get people from their houses to the nearest Metro station 2 miles away in 45 degree celsius.
And from the nearest Metro station 3 miles away to the office at the other end.

I.e., without integrated public transport such as *frequent* buses and /or trams and cycle lanes, the Metro won't fulfill its potential to reduce traffic on the roads.

John B. Chilton said...

Picking up from Real Nick: At the very least, stations in the more remote residential areas will have to have parking. Considerable parking.

Parking has often been left out in considering transport in Dubai. For example, the airport no real long term parking.

I do not agree that Salik is merely a tax. I will concede that its effectiveness is undercut because of the paucity of viable transport alternatives. And I will concede that, like any toll, it will increase traffic on side roads due to toll avoidance behavior.

The toll avoidance behavior we are seeing, however, is so much that it makes me question the economist's fundamental assumption that people act in their self-interest. Is it worth it avoid a 4 dirham toll and pay the cost of putting yourself in a 45 minute traffic jam? At some point I've got to believe this visceral self destructive behavior will end.

Grumpy Goat said...

The issue to me is not the toll in itself. I very much doubt that anyone who can afford to run a motor vehicle is hard up for Dh4, or even Dh32 a day when the actual real-world total running cost of a moderate car starts at around Dh2 per kilometre. But it isn't Dh4, is it? The cost is Dh100, and without that initial outlay, Salik-dodging becomes mandatory.

My problem with Salik is my complete absence of confidence that it is being administered effectively. We all read about or experienced the RTA's lack of planning and forethought when Salik tags were as rare as hens' teeth. We read about the difficulties in getting on line to register, check balances and top up the credit. I continue to hear of peole who never seem to get their Dh4 deducted no matter how many times they pass through the gate, and of others who repeatedly drive tagless through the gate and then don't get fined when they re-register their vehicles. And there was the case of the guy who registered all four of his fleet of cars on the same account, only to have each one charged every time any one of them went through a toll gate.

Added to this, we have out-of-towners from Muscat, perhaps, who have to pay the full Dh100 for a tag and Dh50 credit that might get used only once or twice. How can this possibly be fair or reasonable? What's wrong with a cash payment booth? I'd rather pay say Dh10 cash than Dh100 for a tag to use once. Incidentally, how does the RTA recover fines from Salik violators who have gone back home to Riyadh, Kuwait or Muscat?

The RTA needs to address a few things before considering extending Salik's pecuniary influence:

* A viable public transportation system.

* Reliable and error-free toll debits and credits.

* Cash payment option and/or alternative Salik-free routes.

the real nick said...

Passing over SZR every evening at IC 3 I see traffic queuing bumper to bumper into town. I thought Salik was meant to alleviate this problem.

John, Salik will beomce a tax once all exits and crossovers to "the other side" become toll gates because there's no alternative left to avoid it.

Other than sit around in 5 star metro stations.

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