Notwithstanding a population of 1.7 million, Abu Dhabi last year had one of the lowest levels of traffic congestion among cities of a similar size, an international traffic index report revealed.

Peak hour travel in Abu Dhabi takes only 14 minutes longer than during non-peak hours, a panel of international traffic experts at the TomTom Awards said at a press conference in the capital on Monday.

There has been a 6 per cent increase in travel time during peak hours this year compared to last year, but traffic experts said this is a natural result of population growth. In addition, Abu Dhabi was rated the best among 390 cities at using infrastructure to manage its traffic flow in 2016, traffic experts said.

The TomTom traffic index ranked 390 cities based on congestion, using data collected from smartphone apps, GPS applications, and from taxi and bus monitoring systems. Only the city of Katowice in Poland had similarly low levels of congestion in the group of metropolises with populations between one and eight million.

“We have invested over Dh581 million towards improving traffic management systems in the last few years, and winning this international award is indicative of this great progress,” said Awaidah Al Marar, chairman of the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport, which regulates the municipal and transportation sectors in the emirate.

Much of this investment has been used to install intelligent traffic control systems in the capital. For instance, traffic signals are now monitored smartly through a computerised system that ensures as continuous a flow of traffic as possible.

Another enhancement has been the roll-out of the Darb smartphone application, which allows residents to book taxis, check on real-time bus schedules and stay abreast of traffic incidents and developments. In addition, fare collection systems within the city’s 520 buses were also automated.

“We have earmarked another Dh900 million for further development. A portion of this has been used to set up variable message signboards to manage traffic on the highways, and another portion will be used to enhance the bus network and fleet. We also plan to look into deploying autonomous, driverless vehicles,” Al Marzouqi said.

According to officials at the Integrated Transport Centre at the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport, Abu Dhabi has reduced annual traffic congestion by 14 per cent in recent years.

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