Dubai is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and, as with all major cities, traffic congestion is becoming an ever present issue. Traffic causes smog and respiratory illness, as well as a major part of our world’s greenhouse gases. According to the latest statistics, Dubai’s metropolitan area is now home to just over 2.5 million people and, while the current road network is managing to cope with the current demands, it won’t stay that way for long.
To ensure the city continues to grow and remain both a business hub and a tourist destination, the United Arab Emirates’s Ministry of Public Works recently announced its intention to explore new projects heading into 2017. One of the major areas of investigation for transport experts is the possibility of a new federal road connecting northern emirates to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
New Roads Planned
Set to run parallel with the Emirates Road, the new road would complement plans to expand the E611 road from three lanes to seven in Sharjah and six in Dubai. One of the main reasons for wanting to ensure a smooth route for commuters is city’s growing tourist population. Back in 2012 the country welcomed a record breaking 10 million tourists and in 2015 the government set out plans to achieve 9% annual growth in the coming years.
However, for the city to remain a tourist hotspot it will need to ensure its travel links to and from Dubai International Airport are the best they can be. Acting as a source of comparison for city planners is London. Home to London Heathrow, the third busiest airport in the world, the UK’s capital poses a number of difficulties for the travel industry.
Dubai’s Own London Underground
Indeed, according to the INRIX 2015 Traffic Scorecard, London is the most congested city in the world with commuters facing an average of 101 hours stuck in traffic each year. On top of this finding, studies have also shown that the average journey across London (15 miles) take 56 minutes. Naturally, with time being of the essence when it comes to flying, the best way to get around this issue is the underground.
As suggested by the travel company ebookers, getting a train from Central London to Heathrow can significantly reduce a commuter’s travel time. For example, the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station will take 15 minutes compared to driving times in excess of 30 minutes.
Of course, one of the reasons most travel experts recommend the London Underground as a way to get across the city is the lack of scope for building more roads. However, the environmental benefits of this system can’t be overlooked.
Don’t Rely on Roads is the Message from Experts
Dubai has already taken a leaf from London’s travel book in this regard by opening a driverless metro system that can take people from various parts of the city right into the airport’s main terminals.
Naturally, Dubai has similar space restrictions to consider, but it shouldn’t simply rely on road links when it comes to tourism as London has shown. Indeed, despite London having 5X more residents than Dubai, passenger numbers at Dubai International Airport are just 18% lower than Heathrow which suggests ministers should focus more resources on the Metro system.
With experts pointing to the underground system as the best way for travelers to cross London to get to Heathrow, this should serve as a lesson to Dubai’s travel ministers currently assessing the city’s roads. Indeed, Dubai is fortunate in that is can avoid London’s mistakes and prevent congestion issues before they happen by focusing on the Metro system.
While there are certainly reasons to increase road links in Dubai, the government shouldn’t lose sight of the need for solid rail links if it wants to meet its target of 9% growth in the tourism industry over the next decade.