International Bus Conference speakers share their thoughts: Mohamed Abdulla Al Ali of RTA Dubai

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This year, UITP will once again join forces with our collaborators at Busworld to host the International Bus Conference 2019 (Brussels, 21-23 October) the world’s biggest event dedicated to the bus.

There are many interesting and important developments happening within the bus sector and to place a much-welcomed spotlight on the industry, UITP began our 'Story of the Bus' journey this summer, marking 100 days until the sector embarks in Brussels.

Setting off from UITP in July, we have informed and updated the sector on the latest innovations and advancements with the release of five brand new bus publications.

Now, as we make the final part of our journey towards our Conference, we’re stopping off at the side of the road to meet and greet a selection of our international speakers and panellists…

We started getting to know our speakers with Renée Amilcar, Executive Director of Bus for Societe De Transport De Montreal and Chair of the UITP Bus Division, a Vice President of UITP and member of UITP’s Executive Board…

Then we met Johan Holstein, Development Executive for Arriva, London, UK, Antonio Manuel Domingues Pires, COO/CTO of Carris, Lisbon, Portugal and then Amos Haggiag, CEO and co-founder of Optibus in Israel and then we introduced to you Oleksandra Sladkova, Head of Urbanistics Department, at the Institute of Spatial Development, Lviv, Ukraine.

Up next is Mohamed Abdulla Al Ali, Director of Buses Department at Road Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai.

Dubai is leading the way on many different aspects of public transport, with numerous technological advancements moving quickly. RTA recently launched new bus routes, including new journeys to the airport, to continue to connect the city. You are also expanding the bus network at great speed. What are the next plans for the bus sector in Dubai?

The customer is at the core of our plans. We have designed the bus network, purchase the fleet, and installed Smart bus shelters to serve the customer needs and exceed their expectations. We have introduced many new routes to improve connectivity and accessibility, to increase coverage, and to reduce travel times. We introduced express routes, airports routes, seasonal routes, and so on. Simultaneously, looking into the future, we are exploring autonomous buses, electric buses, hydrogen buses, buses on demand, Wi-Fi on buses, and other technologies that would reshape the bus sector in the coming years and continue to enhance customer experience.

RTA places great emphasis on innovation… as early adopter, we continue to explore and study transport innovation on all levels…

You will participate on the Parallel Session 'Bus service tendering and contracting' focusing on the key success factors to achieve excellence. Can you please tell our readers what they can expect from the panel session? What do you hope the audience will take away from it?

This presentation will focus on the experience and the outcomes achieved from the two recent bus procurement projects. RTA was able to achieve the following:
• Fuel-efficient buses and commitment from bus OEM to meet the declared fuel consumption rate.
• Future proof buses using ITxPT standards allowing RTA to upgrade or add future innovations and new ITS capabilities during the vehicle lifecycle.
• Deep dive analysis of the technical solutions proposed to ensure that the vehicle design would meet all the technical and Dubai specific requirements.
• Financial considerations including lifecycle cost of ownership, asset sell back to local agent at agreed price, inclusion ITS as part of the commercial offer.
• Opportunity for bus OEM to offer innovations as value added propositions to be considered by RTA.
• Documentation of the technical and Dubai specific requirements through a process of internal stakeholder engagement, industrial consultation, review of lessons learned and aligning the specifications to recent version of relevant standards.

We will share the strategies and key success factors in procuring a value for money fleet that is fit for purpose.  At the same time the outcome of the tender created a distinct RTA approach to fleet procurement that challenged the bus OEMs globally through targeted development of buses suitable for hot desert environment.

Dubai is known for having great innovation in the field of public transport and RTA is planning to test various electric vehicle innovations in the future. Are you pleased with the developments you are making in urban mobility?   

Thank you for the kind compliment. RTA places great emphasis on innovation in several ways. As early adopter, we continue to explore and study transport innovation on all levels of application and offer to the IP owner the chance to demonstrate the concept and test the application in Dubai to ensure that the innovations meets the operational and environmental requirements. Through this collaborative approach, we have been successful in adoption of innovation. Testing of electric vehicle during the Dubai Expo period, introduction of low entry buses, development of autonomous vehicle implementation plan, and camera based alternative to side view mirrors with LED screens are some of the on-going activities. Upon the successful testing, RTA will take into consideration the roll out of the innovation as part of the public transport solution progressively.

Our advice to cities is to go to the bus stops, use the buses, visit the bus stations, take feedback and listen to your customers

How important is it for you to participate in UITP events on behalf of RTA, such as the International Bus Conference?

We see significant value in attending both this Conference and Exhibition for two reasons.  The scope of the conference allows both sides of the public transport industry, the operator and OEMs, to share their success stories and collectively discuss challenges that we all face in delivering mobility in a sustainable way. Secondly, this event has become the major international event for RTA to attend as it allows us to hold one to one discussion with our major partners.

According to recent news reports, almost 300 million people have already used public transport in Dubai this year so far (Aug 2019). This is an incredible achievement! What advice would you offer to other countries trying to encourage more people to use public transport? 

Customer first. Understanding what the customer wants is necessary. Our advice to cities is to go to the bus stops, use the buses, visit the bus stations, take feedback and listen to your customers. In Dubai’s case, integration has been key. Improving the infrastructure, integrating systems (S’hail) and payment channels (NOL) have had a powerful impact of encouraging public transport usage. On a final note, transport is at the core of any economy, and effective public transport is a necessary ingredient in the success of a transport system. Cities need to look at public transport as long-term investment projects that reap the benefits through generations. We recently celebrated the 10-year mark of Dubai Metro since 09.09.09, many things have changed since then, however we are still reaping the benefits and will continue to get the benefits for people for years to come!

Thank you for Mr. Al Ali for his time and wise words!



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