20 May, 2008

Car pooling bureaucracy

Dubai and Abu Dhabi say that car pooling will be permitted, but with some mind-boggling red tape.

The Dubai RTA's Director of Planning & Business Development Department is quoted as saying:

"Now people can drive their friends and colleagues to and from their homes and workplaces without fear of getting fines if they get approval from the RTA."

It should never have been a problem, never have been banned, but it looks as though we're getting somewhere in the battle with traffic congestion. Until you read the "but" part of the reports.

To car pool:

The motorist must register the car with the RTA.

Motorists will be given certificates allowing them to share their cars.

The names of the persons sharing the car should be furnished at the time of registration to avoid a fine.

A maximum of four people will be allowed to share a car.

And look at this for the worst Big Brother part:

After they have entered their personal details and information on their vehicles, the authority will conduct background checks on colleagues wishing to carpool before issuing a letter of approval.

They're checking your background before you can sit in someone's car?!!

I can hardly believe these can be true reports.

All over the world people share cars. RTA equivalents and governments encourage and support it. Many cities have special lanes for them, to speed their journey. Singapore has various meeting places where a driver going into the city centre can pick up passengers.

If people want to give others a lift, and to share petrol costs if they choose, that is A Good Thing. And it should also be a personal choice, encouraged by the authorities to reduce traffic congestion, reduce the need for parking space, reduce pollution.

This is a real can of worms. Just a few of the questions:

The car must be registered with the RTA.

So if the car's in for service or repair, the owner can't use his hire car to drive his registered passengers around?

The names of those sharing the car must be pre-registered.

So when one of them leaves the company, his name has to be de-registered and any new passenger registered?

What if your company has an overseas visitor and asks you to drive him to the office - and around town come to that. Do you have to pre-register him as an approved passenger?

A maximum of four people will be allowed to share a car.

So if you have a vehicle suitable for carrying more, like a big 4x4 or a people mover, you can't fill it?

People can drive their friends and colleagues to and from their homes and workplaces.

What about other journeys? A group of friends going to dinner decide that one will drive them all. A friend or colleague is going to the airport and you offer to take him there. Illegal?

And in general, there are the less structured instances of people sharing cars.

What if a neighbour's car won't start and you offer to drive him to his office? Illegal?

A colleague's car is off the road so you offer him a lift until he has it back. Illegal?

You and a colleague are going to business meetings in the same area, so you offer to drop him off. Illegal?

And then there's the enforcement of it all. What's the plan, to stop all cars with more than one person in it? Check who they are, where they're going, if they have a car pooling certificate, if the passengers are registered?

And who will do it, the police? Don't they have enough real work to do?

Time for a petition I think.

The stories I've read are in Gulf News and The National.


Proud Emirati said...

This doesn't make sense at all. Surely the ones who work as illegal taxi drivers should be fined but I don't think this is the way to solve the problem.

I don't think it will affect me though.

elle said...

Oh this is just rediculous. My friend will often phone me and ask for a lift to work, if her husband isn't going that way. I do it out of the goodness of my heart, I don't ask for any money. So they are saying I'm breaking the law if I help a friend. What next!

urban plan said...

First of all:

"Now people can drive their friends and colleagues ..."

a) Please correct that to: "Colleagues ONLY."

b) Take my case: I live in Al Ain, work in Al Barsha. My neighbour in Al Ain (200 mts away from my home), works in the building next to mine in Al Barsha. Our timings are almost the same (half-hour difference). We travel together in my car. He pays part of the petrol cost. (This is an actual situation.)

Now according to RTA, this is illegal, and we will both have to travel in separate cars, driving 2 cars over a distance of 300 km each day, instead of one. See how they're solving the traffic situation, not to mention the environment situation?

They say they know the difference between car lifts and illegal taxis. They say that when cars stop by the side of the road and haggle with potential passengers, it's an indication of an illegal taxi. So why are people giving their colleagues a lift, being fined Dh 5000? Are those complaints just being made up?

Note: Al Barsha Dubai, to Al Ain in the evenings, using Public Transport: minimum four and a half hours, cost: Dh 27.50 (Dh 2.50 RTA bus, Dh 20 Al Ghazal Bus, Dh 5 taxi from Al Ain Bus Depot to nearby point in town.)

Al Ain to Barsha in the mornings using public transport: Three and a half hours (minimum), same cost.

By private car: 90 minutes each way (morning or evening); Petrol cost Dh 15 (Corolla or similar) or Dh 20 for mid-size (2 ltr) car.

The car can carry up to 4 people, which means petrol cost per person would come down to Dh 3.75 each way. Which would you choose?

Dubai Entrepreneur said...

Shameless plug: I posted about this earlier, here:

Carpooling registration without incentive in the UAE

Doubleletter said...

This does not encourage people to carpool. They should be taking steps to _encourage_ people to carpool - maybe via incentives.

But wait a sec .. _give_ ?! There's no give in this country, only _take_.

i*maginate said...

To cut a long story short, more than two people in a vehicle at any given time is eligible for a fine unless the other person is registered.


Keefieboy said...

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Insane, mental, crazy. Does anyone in the RTA ever visit the real world?

Anonymous said...

In other words......Salik never did nor will ease the traffic congestion. Its foolish to even think about implementing such "Pooling" laws. God Save the UAE. By the way, what did you say was the service or administration fee for such an registration? :-)

Anonymous said...

ah, ok. and all the hookers' picking up that take place in bur dubai that has been going on for years now isn't illega? i mean damn, if not for anything; then it should be so for violating rta regulations, inni't?

Anonymous said...

This makes no sense and helps nobody, except one more way to collect money from fees and fines.

Anonymous said...

some people just love sharing their car with friends for free specially when hanging out,, so what if the police saw then and ask them to pull over,, does it mean they already did something wrong because their with someone else in the same car?,,

Anonymous said...

RTA is living in a dream world !! they are not in touch with ground realities. If RTA would like to apprehend illegal taxi drivers, they can wait for them at any bus stand in Dubai. They come in droves. RTA should be able to spot genuine against illegal operators, as most of these illegal taxis are rented cars !! For the moment, RTA should encourage all modes of pooling, before more people are killed, either by accident or blood pressure shooting up !!!

Veiled Muslimah said...

This is silly. I thought one of the aims was to decrease traffic... not increase it? Sigh.

Confused Carpooler said...

What the..... so now if i want to go to the mall with a couple of friends who live in the same neighborhood, they have to go in their separate vehicles??? How does that help the environment or cut down the traffic jams? What if you have friends over from overseas and you drive them around showing them around? Not allowed too?t they have to go register with a tour company and pay insane amounts of cash? Also, how in hell DO you carpool illegally? If you charge the person, that could technically be considered as you're providing taxi service in which case that'd be illegal. Though what' is the issue with splitting the cost of the petrol? I don't think the RTA know the difference between carpooling and taxi. Bloody UAE red-tape....can't they focus on things that really matter (like drivers who drive like they've just gotten off a camel two days ago) instead of on the stuff that's not really relevant?

Anonymous said...

RTA is just looking for ways to make money.

E. Jones said...

What can you expect from the bunch that instated the cruel ruling that no women are allowed in public buses after the first few seats are filled up. The driver bluntly says ‘no ladies' and turns women away who go back to waiting in the stifling heat for the next 3 buses that do the same. No woman has ever said she is unwilling to stand in the bus if there isn’t a seat available immediately…

The RTA are a group of deluded idiots. No contest.

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