Dubai to have new water taxi service by 2009

August 3rd, 2008 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Aug 3 (IANS) This Gulf metropolis is all set to get a new state-of-the-art water taxi service by next year, which aims to ease the traffic congestion on its roads. Scheduled for a 2009 opening, the project will initially have 10 motorboats, according to a statement issued by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

“In the initial stage, 10 boats, costing 30 million dirhams ($8.2 billion), will be operated as water taxis,” Khaled Mohammad Al Zahed, acting chief executive of the RTA Marine Agency, said in the statement.

The taxis will be fitted with the best marine security and safety tools in accordance with terms provided in the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) international treaty.

Each taxi will be able to accommodate 11 passengers in addition to the driver, and 20 percent of seats are foldable to allow for suitable room for the movement of wheel chairs, the RTA statement said.

The taxi will have twin environment-friendly diesel engines of 370 hp fitted with a water jet propulsion, and the interior will be air-conditioned.

Apart from air-conditioned interiors, the water taxi’s seats will be modelled on business class features of airlines, with a 45-degree reclining back and a mini table as well.

All seats will be fitted with life jackets underneath and LCD monitors to display guidance and awareness messages as well as promotional materials.

As for its navigational equipment, the water taxi will be fitted with the best navigational systems approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), fixed wireless phone, global positioning system (GPS) and the automatic identification system (AIS).

“Twenty locations have been approved for establishing water taxi stations during the initial phase of the project, which will contribute to alleviating traffic congestion in Dubai,” Al Zahed said.

“The project will be specifically important in the foreseeable future, following the completion of giant maritime projects such as the Palm Deira, the Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Jebel Ali, and The World,” he said, adding that work has already started in designing a model water taxi station.

Stating that the authorities have made several site visits to identify possible locations for stations, he said: “Following a study, stations have been classified into four groups - stations ready for construction or modification, stations that require some time for construction, stations feasible in 2011, and stations considered unfeasible.”

This is the latest in a series of moves by transport authorities in this rapidly expanding city to easy the traffic woes of its residents.

A new metro service, scheduled for a September 2009 opening, and a new tram system will also add to the city’s existing fleet of taxis and buses.

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