Coronavirus Pandemic

Dubai-Sharjah traffic has eased since Covid-19 pandemic, studies find

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on April 19, 2021


WFH, online classes, infrastructure improvement led to smoother flow on vehicles on popular route.

The traffic on roads between Dubai and Sharjah, which used to be bumper to bumper, have eased significantly since the Covid-19 pandemic struck the UAE, traffic and roads safety experts told Khaleej Times.

Based on several studies conducted by local campaign group RoadSafety UAE and SatNav company TomTom, several roads that connect both the emirates reported a drastic drop in traffic jams since April 2020.

Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road SafetyUAE, and Javed Khamisani, operator of the community-based Twitter handle @trafficdxb, said work-from-home (WFH) and online classes are discernible trends coupled with consistent investment in infrastructure improvement projects, which have emerged as some of the primary reasons for the traffic to ease on these usually congested roads.

Also watch: Dubai-Sharjah travel time slashed to 9 minutes

Commute to work time is less, as compared to previous years

According to the UAE Road Safety Monitor, an annual survey conducted by RoadSafetyUAE in collaboration with YouGov, fewer residents have said their commute to work is taking longer. “In 2020, 25 per cent of the surveyed audience strongly disagreed with the statement that their commute to work is taking longer. These numbers have been steadily increasing since 2015, which shows more people are finding it more comfortable driving to work,” Edelmann said.

The number of respondents who strongly agree to the statement that their commute to work is taking longer have consistently dropped from 66 per cent in 2015 to 52 per cent in 2020. The annual survey, which was launched in 2015, conducts interviews with over 1,000 commuters.

“These statistics have a direct correlation with the government’s investment in infrastructure. Of course, these are soft factors, but we’ve found that people generally enjoy driving in the city,” he added.

The survey also stated that 84 per cent of the respondents strongly agreed that ‘the country’s infrastructure has improved”, as compared to the 68 per cent in 2015.

More people are also enjoying their drive because only 12 per cent of the surveyed audience strongly disagreed with this statement in 2020, as compared to the 13 per cent in 2015.

On the TomTom survey, the congestion level in Dubai stood at 19 per cent, which is 10 per cent less traffic than the previous year.

Congestion levels dipped down to 6 per cent in April 2020 and went back up to only 19 per cent in December the same year.

Better infrastructure plays a key role in lesser traffic

On Saturday, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) opened the Al Khawaneej Roads Improvement Project. This critical road will cut the journey time from Emirates Road to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road by 25 minutes to nine minutes.

The project could potentially relieve roadblocks in other critical networks that connect the neighbouring emirates, reducing travel time substantially.

“The government of Dubai has not stopped building good road infrastructure just because traffic is down at the moment or there is an ongoing financial crisis. After every lull, there will be a boom; the government is preparing itself for that upward economic trend,” stated Edelmann.

New road to benefit commuters in case of heavy traffic on major highways

However, Khamisani, the curator of TrafficDXB, said the Al Khawaneej Roads Improvement Project would only help Sharjah–Dubai commuters in heavy traffic on major roads that connect both the emirates.

“I’ve reviewed the route, and personally, it’d only be used by Sharjah commuters if there is a heavy jam on E311. It's a quick way to get on to E611, and it would be more in use to people who are bypassing Sharjah to get to Ajman or people living near and around the Sharjah International Airport,” he said.

“The WFH culture has been in place, and many schools are also online because of the viral outbreak. As a result, the traffic flow has gone down significantly. The road will be good for people going to the eastern emirates via Maleha Road. Since there are not so many people going that way, it’d hardly have any impact on E311,” he added.

However, Khamisani, who has been monitoring traffic on the community-run Twitter page since 2011, said, “I had not come across any major traffic jams last year. Also, petrol prices over the last two months have risen. People would rather stay on a moderately congested road and save petrol than take long detours to get to their destination,” he added.

Residents feel ease of congestion

Several Sharjah– Dubai commuters also agreed about current traffic conditions. Vivek Menon, a Sharjah resident, who works in Dubai, said, “During peak hours there is some traffic between both emirates. However, a one-and-a-half-hour commute has now been reduced to only 45 minutes.”

Another expatriate, Aram Syed, said, “In 2019, it took me 45 minutes to find parking in areas such as Deira, Internet City and Media City in Dubai. Now, there’s always parking in these areas.”


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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