AI for efficient transport: Dubai RTA runs pilot program

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Dubai RTA Bus
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Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is reportedly using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, predominantly machine learning algorithms, to chart bus routes in the emirate based on patterns of usage for the service. 

The experiment is part of the RTA’s efforts to utilize technology in saving the time and effort of all stakeholders and improving the experience of public transport users.

“The use of AI such as machine learning algorithms, in planning the routes of public buses aims to revamp the planning of 150 routes used by 2,158 buses all over Dubai. During a trial period, the RTA experimented on 10 routes where nol card data was employed to figure out all-day busy bus stops, stops used during peak hours, and rarely used stops,” said Ahmed Mahboub, Executive Director of Smart Services, Corporate Technology Support Services Sector, RTA.

“By using machine learning algorithms in analyzing the captured data, the concerned departments can build up systems and take decisions with reference to abolishing certain stops, or proposing an express service that skips those stops, while ensuring customer needs are always addressed. Such a process will contribute to improving this vital service,” he commented.

“The trial phase, which was carried out for 30 days, resulted in saving the time that would be wasted on bus routes by 13.3 percent. As buses cover nearly 153 million kilometers per annum, the technology is set to bring about considerable savings in fuel consumption and the reduction of carbon emissions. It will also save the time and effort of route planners thanks to the automated route-proposal and improvement process. Such deliverables will encourage the RTA to generalize the application of the technology to all bus routes and stops, especially as public buses are on the top of public transit means in terms of passengers and meeting the needs of various community sectors,” RTA’s Smart Services Executive Director added.

“The RTA is making relentless efforts to play a pioneering role in benefitting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies in line with the Artificial Intelligence Strategy advocating the use of technology to serve the community. It also contributes to the fruition of several RTA’s strategic goals as well as its vision of Safe and Smooth Transport for All,” Mr. Mahboub concluded.