Like most big cities in the world, Dubai faces an acute shortage of parking spaces in many commercial and residential districts. The issue is not restricted to central business districts of Deira and Bur Dubai anymore, but newer areas like Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lakes Towers also face severe congestions.
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), while managing paid parking spaces divided into 69 zones, is also aggressively promoting the use public transport as a solution to ease congestion.
However, experts feel an effective solution to the problem could be multi-pronged, which includes use of technology, legislation that encourages ride sharing as well as introducing economic incentives for not using personal cars.
“There is no one fix for the problem. The issue could be sorted through three strategies: we need to have government regulation that encourages people to used shared transportation like Uber and Careem, which is happening right now, then there has to be economic incentives for people to not driving their own cars and then comes the utilisation of technology like autonomous vehicles which again Dubai is investing on as well as automation of parking spaces,” said Rik Goodwin, chief operating officer of Fybr, a US-based firm that offers smart parking and traffic management solutions.
Dubai has set a target of transforming 25 per cent of the city’s rides into autonomous trips by 2030, but as a short-term solution, expanding ride-hailing services and automation of parking spaces could be the way forward.
Adib Samara, director of Business Development at Careem, one of the two ride-sharing firms operating in Dubai, said that ride-sharing services are increasing in popularity in the region with 15 million people using it in the Middle East.
He added that with more economical services coming to the market, the number of users is expected to reach 50 million.
“Apart from reducing traffic on roads, what ride-hailing services do is reduce the demand on parking spaces,” said Samara, speaking at the NextGen Parking Management Summit.
Though experts are busy promoting technological solutions to parking problems, the smart systems don’t seem to take off immediately.
Dubai has been home to the world’s largest automated parking unit located in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) for the last six years, but ironically the system hasn’t gained much popularity despite its obvious success in reducing congestion.
Speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of the summit, Zarak Ali, director of Massa Global, the developers of the world’s largest automated parking system, said that awareness about such systems is growing with more technology coming to the fore.
“I believe automation is part of the solution, as it is cost effective and safe, while increasing the efficiency and utility of a space by up to 50 per cent. In a high-rise building, an automated parking facility is cheaper than the conventional facility and it requires less space while accommodating double the number of vehicles,” said Ali.
He added that automation could be a way forward for large public parking spaces as well, helping ease congestion in areas like Deira and Bur Dubai.
Fady Sokhon, general manager of Abu Dhabi-based automated parking provider Gitech, says that automation not only saves cost and space, but it is also eco-friendly and safe.
“Our technology is robot based which ensures that less steel is used and it covers smaller space which effectively cuts down resources used for building parking spaces, it reduces the fuel and carbon emissions used in looking for parking and it is safer because it protects from theft and vandalism,” said Sokhon, who is currently operating two automated parking facilities in the capital and is planning to start operations in Dubai soon.
Dubai has around 112,000 parking slots in 69 parking zones.