Dubai is one of the cities that have the highest number of vehicles in the Middle East. The implication of this observation is that the city experiences increased traffic congestion. To cater for the increasing number of transport service seekers, the government of Dubai through RTA has invested heavily in road infrastructural development projects such as the Red Line and Green Line works and the purchasing of more buses. However, the rate of these developments does not match the rising number of service demand. As the paper reveals, despite RTA’s success in easing traffic congestion, some passengers are forced to wait for about 2 hours to board a bus. After doing a comparison between Dubai and major cities such as London and New York, the paper confirms that Dubai has to put extra efforts to raise its transport levels if it has to fight the prevailing traffic congestion.
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Dubai has an elaborate road and transport system. Smooth operation of the system requires ardent management and maintenance by a team of experts. Dubai’s transport scheme was developed in 1998. However, it was later renamed as Road and Transport Authority (RTA). Apart from the management of the system, RTA has an additional mandate of regulating transport systems in the UAE and Dubai. The main goal of RTA is to minimize traffic in the transport system in Dubai (Road Transport Authority, 2014).
The authority also plays a noble role of planning and carrying out various transport projects, construction of the Dubai Metro, and the development of integrated solution to the marine and road transport network issues. Specifically, it aims at ensuring that the transport system aligns well with economic status of city of Dubai whilst meeting the benchmarks that have been set in the international arena. This paper conducts a comprehensive assessment and analysis of RTA as an organizational entity in the context of an interview that was conducted with Mr. Ahmad Mahboub who is the director of customer service center at RTA.
Overall Industry Background
RTA offers transport services to more than 30 million passengers on a weekly basis via 193 routes. Despite its sheer size, the bus system is not big enough to offer services to people who demand them. In some terminals, passengers wait for close to 2 hours before they can use the service. Indeed, buses do not increase congruently with the rising number of service demand. To address this challenge, RTA announced in 2008 its plan to buy 1616 buses (Road Transport Authority, 2014). The buses come in different sizes. They are fitted with a state-of-the-art technology to enhance passenger security and safety.
Apart from the buses, Dubai operates an elaborate taxi system that comprises privately and publicly owned cabs. Dubai Transport Corporation manages the cream-colored cabs. Some of the private cab operators include National Taxi and the Metro Taxi companies among others. The city of Dubai has an excess of 7500 taxis.
Although the main mode of transport that is used by majority of Dubai people is the road transport, RTA has also a mandate of managing trams, marines, and air travel services. It has two main commercial ports, namely Jebel Ali and Rashid port. Minor ports, which are mainly used by various local businesspersons in dhows, include the Saeed and Port Dubai creek. Traditionally, people moved from Bur Dubai and Deira using small boats. However, since 2007, marine transport system as an entity within the RTA has initiated a waterbus transport system in this route. Dubai also has an efficient transport facility. It has one of the biggest duty-free shopping bases. Unfortunately, as evidenced in appendix 1, not all places are connected to metro stations. This situation limits the accessibility of the tram system
The Purpose of the Organization
RTA was established to ensure effective operation of the Dubai road and marine transport system. Road Transport Authority (2014) reveals RTA’s vision of providing secure, smooth, and dependable transport system. An organizational vision or simply long-term plan forms the basis of developing the organizational purpose (Freshwater, Sherwood & Drury, 2006). The purpose statement must also define the core activity and the targeted customers. Drawing from RTA’s vision statement, its purpose is to provide smooth and steadfast road and marine transport system to all Dubai and the UAE people
Reason for the Establishment of the Organization
After the creation of RTA in 2006, all transport systems were unified. This confederation implies that the main reason for creating RTA was to ensure unification of all transport services so that they can be managed from the same set of guidelines and policy frameworks. Establishment of the frameworks by one organization eliminated or reduced conflicts of interest in terms of the number of stakeholders who were previously in the sector. The unification ensured accommodation of various metro facilities under a single brand name.
Organization’s Products and Services
Organizations offer services and products for sale in the marketplace to gain revenues. Customers are the main sources of organizational success. No matter the industry in which an organization operates, it depends on the capacity of the customers to consume its products and/or services so that it can continue with its daily goods and service production routines (Gordon, 2011). For repeated sales, it is necessary for a company to ensure that its customers are satisfied with the offered products and services. RTA offers air, highway, and oceanic transport as its products.
However, it also offers support services to these products to enhance their (products) delivery. These extra services include online bookings and customer interactions with the organization. This service is outsourced to increase efficiency and effectiveness as shown in appendix 1. RTA conducts an online survey to determine the expectations and emerging needs of the product users. This survey aids in strategic planning and development of new policy frameworks to regulate the operations of the organization consistently with the service demand.
To address its needs, any organization adopts appropriate organizational structures. Common structures include self-governing organizational structures, hierarchical systems, and bureaucratic structures. RTA has a massive responsibility in developing transportation infrastructural frameworks in Dubai. To ensure that it fulfills this mandate, the organization has six administrative bureaus, namely “Marine, Public Transport, Traffic and Roads, Rail, Dubai Taxi, and Licensing Agency” (Road Transport Authority, 2014, Para. 2). Each of these bureaus is concerned with its respective line of transportation service delivery. For instance, the Dubai Taxi manages the taxi system while the marine transport manages the marine transport system. Since RTA has a responsibility to ensure compliance with the established policy frameworks in the transportation sector, the agencies are bureaucratically structured.
By enhancing compliance via bureaucratic organizational structures, RTA has successfully accomplished its goal of easing traffic flow in the city of Dubai. This achievement has been enhanced by the successful implementation of the Dubai Metro project (Road Transport Authority, 2014). Work in the Red Line project commenced in 2009 followed by the implementation of the Green Line scheme from 2011 to 2014. Despite this success, bureaucratic and hierarchical organizational structures have some had several weaknesses. Armstrong and Daft (2009) support this assertion by claiming that the structure hinders the development of a culture of innovation and creativity since information only flows from top to bottom. A bureaucratic organizational structure is associated with Max Weber.
Weber advocated division of work within an organization where the small divisions were allocated to persons depending on their abilities and skill levels. The effect of this plan was to encourage specialization and divisions of labor, which yielded positive outcomes in terms of easing traffic flow. However, new paradigms in the management and leadership approaches indicate that plans such as division and specialization of labor push people into engaging in repetitive tasks that create boredom and reduced work morale (Chatman, 2011). Hence, it is important for RTA to alter its work culture, which also defines the organizational structure, to enhance its vigilance in dealing with Chatman’s (2011) challenge in case it emerges. This preparedness ensures maintenance of its success and the realization of its vision.
A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning approach for evaluating the strengths, limitations, prospects, and dangers that business establishments encounter (Hill & Westbrook, 1997). The main aim of conducting a SWOT analysis for RTA is to ensure that threats are turned around to become opportunities whilst ensuring that weaknesses become strengths. Strengths are the traits that make an organization have an advantage in comparison with others (Hill & Westbrook, 1997).
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The main goal of RTA is to ensure smooth flow of traffic in Dubai by easing passage blockage. To achieve this goal, RTA has the strength of the availability of financial resources to cater for the implementation of various projects. It also has professional experts. Most of the financial resources are used for the right work due to the low corruption prevalence rates in Dubai.
Although RTA possesses the above strengths, it has some weakness. Weakness or the limitations are the traits of an organization that place it at a disadvantage in comparison with other organizations in the same industry (Hill & Westbrook, 1997). One of the weaknesses of RTA is its bureaucratic structure. This structure may affect its communication of strategies for implementing projects, especially where the public must change its behaviors and movement cultures. The rate of developing new road infrastructure does not match the rate of traffic growth.
Opportunities are the existing external chances, which while utilized make an organization improve its performance (Hill & Westbrook, 1997). One of the major opportunities for RTA is the increasing number of people who demand the services and products that are offered by the organization. Such people are also interested in moving efficiently within the city. Thus, they can consent to any strategic plan that is aimed at reducing traffic congestion.
Consequently, RTA can develop the bus system to ensure that private vehicles are not used within the city. Threats encompass the external chances that impair the performance of an organization (Hill & Westbrook, 1997). One of the threats that RTA might face is the inability to move people immediately. As noted before, passengers sometimes wait for about 2 hours to board a bus. This problem may persist upon considering that the number of buses does not grow at the rate of service demand. Additionally, from the interview results, RTA has weakness in raising revenues as revealed in appendix 1.
Operations Process and Challenges
All organizations experience challenges in their operations. The strategies for managing the challenges determine the success or failure of a business entity (Armstrong & Daft, 2009). Despite the success in easing traffic jam in Dubai, the capital remains one of the most congested cities within the Middle East. The challenge of induced traffic jams, especially during rush hours, remains a major problem in enhancing a smooth flow of traffic. Indeed, the most significant reduction in traffic congestion was witnessed in 2009.
However, RTA did not attribute the reduction to investments that had been done to improve the road transport infrastructure. It was also due to mass relocation of workers from the city to other places. Some people were returning to their home countries, following the global financial crisis. Now, the impacts of the GFC have faded. Foreign nationals have begun recovering jobs that were lost during the GFC. The accessibility of the tram system to all people also constitutes a major challenge. From appendix 1, tram in Dubai is in few destinations. Not all people are connected to a metro station.
Benchmarking and the Future of the Organization
The future of RTA in reducing traffic congestion in the city rests on the capacity to reduce the number of vehicles that move down the streets. This goal may be achieved through the development of policies for reducing private vehicle ownership. However, RTA does not have an exclusive mandate in the issue. Consequently, reducing traffic congestion in the future will depend on cooperation from the government in terms of vehicle importation and manufacturing policies and RTA’s proposed frameworks for easing traffic congestion.
Using London and New York cities as benchmarks, such a move is realizable. Dubai car ownership stands at more than 541 for every 1000 people, compared to 444 for every 1000 people in New York and 345 cars for every 1000 people in London. Since Dubai city is minor in relation to New York City, the problem of traffic congestion is even higher in terms of distribution density. Dubai can also raise its tram system levels to match New York’s situation in terms of efficiency of operations.
RTA is an organization that manages and develops strategic plans in the transportation sector in Dubai. Based on the assessment of the organization, RTA has been effective in easing traffic congestion. Several transport systems have been established in Dubai to curb the traffic jam issue. However, challenges remain due to the limited sources of revenue and high number of private vehicle ownership in the city. This finding holds after comparing it with other major cities in the international arena such as London and New York. However, there is a need for Dubai to realize that it is possible to reach London and New York’s transport standards. This goal can only be achieved if all stakeholders work together by sharing a common interest that an improved transport system in Dubai will benefit all people, regardless of their origin, color, or race.
Armstrong, A., & Daft, R. (2009) Organization Theory and Design. Toronto: Nelson.
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Gordon, I. (2011). Relationship Marketing: New Strategies, Techniques and Technologies to Win the Customers You Want and Keep Them Forever. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons Publishers.
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Appendix 1: The Interview Results
Me: Good morning sir.
Ahmad: Morning, it is a pleasure to have you at the RTA call center today.
Me: Thank you.
Ahmed: Need to know something about us?
Me: Yes please.
Me: For how long has the tram system been in operation?
Ahmad: Wow, its day one!
Me: What about customer complaints? do you incorporate them in your policy frameworks?
Ahmad: Yes. RTA values and takes customer complaints very seriously. However, there are procedures to be followed and extents to which such complaints can be incorporated in the established policy frameworks by the top organ of the organizations’ management. RTA solves the current customer problems, but also uses expert’s information like forecasts to prevent and enhance preparedness to handle future likely problems.
Me: How are call centers managed?
Ahmad: Call center employees and taxis are outsourced to improve efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery
Me: What is your main source of revenue?
Ahmad: There are various sources, but Salik gate (pay tollgate) is considered the most important source.
Me: Any major challenge encountered by RTA?
Ahmad: Oh, yes! The tram system is in few destinations. Not all of Dubai regions are connected to a metro station.
Me: Thank you so much for responding to my questions. I am honored to be at RTA
Ahmad: You are welcome.
Me: Thank you.