Free Salik, modified taxis: How Dubai makes it easier for people of determination to get around the city

RTA has introduced several initiatives to make public transport and roads safe and accessible for all sections of society

The UAE has over the years introduced several initiatives and laws to make life and travel easier for people of determination. Dubai’s RTA, in particular, has provided services and special features to meet the needs of this section of the society.

According to the RTA, the requirements of people of determination “have always been” a part of the authority’s plans and services.

Here are some of the services and features RTA provides:

Specialised Nol card

People of determination can travel for free on Dubai Metro and public buses using a personalised Nol card. It can be purchased for Dh70: Dh50 for the card, and Dh20 as the starting value on the card. It is valid for 5 years and can be purchased again after this period.

Metro: Tactile paths, emergency buttons

1. The platforms of the Metro have tactile paths to allow visually-impaired people to navigate them.

2. Every compartment has a designated space for wheelchair users. These are located near the train doors, which are made spacious enough for wheelchairs to enter.

3. The cautionary announcement about the opening and closing of the doors is provided in both audio and visual formats.

4. All Metro stations have toilets with with stalls for people of determination.

5. Lifts in the stations are big enough to accommodate wheelchairs.

6. For the hearing-impaired, there are screens showing where a train is and how long it will take to arrive at the platform. These are accompanied by audio announcements for the visually-impaired.

7. Hand rests on the Metro are situated at a suitable height to be accessible for wheelchair users.

8. There are emergency stop buttons on all the escalators at Metro stations. They also have lights along their entire stretch to help illuminate the space better.

9. Dedicated parking spaces are available near the main station entrances.

10. Automatic doors provide easy access for people of determination.

Buses: Special access, designated space

1. All new buses have the ability to lower the floor level to allow wheelchair users to board and alight easily.

2. There are designated spaces for wheelchairs on RTA buses.

2. The push buttons to signal the stop to the bus driver are available at easily accessible locations around the bus.

3. Many bus stops have air-conditioned shelters in which people can wait for the bus.

Marine transport: Dedicated staff

1. Water buses can accommodate up to three wheelchairs at a time, and have ample seating as well.

2. At each marina, an employee is present to help people of determination enter the water bus.

3. LCD monitors on the water bus show important information and safety procedures.

4. The ferry has space for two wheelchairs at a time, and seats are foldable so that wheelchairs can move comfortably on board.

Taxis: Vehicles with lifts, wheelchairs

There are taxis that are dedicated for people of determination. These vehicles come with a wheelchair on board, special lifts for wheelchairs, artificial respiratory systems, and seats for companions.

These taxis run 24 hours a day all across the emirate, and are driven by specially trained drivers. The fare system is the same as other taxis in the emirate.

Roads: Free Salik, parking permits

1. The pavement height is lowered nearing crossings and junctions to make it easier for people in wheelchairs to move around. There is also no height difference between one end of the crossing and the other.

2. The movement and speed of people of determination are taken into consideration when programming the timing of pedestrian crossing signals

3. The RTA has constructed footbridges all around the city. These are equipped with lifts to be more accessible for people of determination.

4. Special free parking permits have been provided for people of determination to park in dedicated spaces. In August 2023, the RTA digitised these permits, as well as those for senior Emiratis. This means that they will no longer have to print and display the permits. The user to add up to 5 vehicles in each permit – one primary vehicle and 4 secondary ones.

5. People of determination are exempted from paying Salik on one vehicle. This exemption can be renewed every year.

Licensing for modified vehicles

Vehicles for people of determination needed to be fitted with specific accessories. The RTA provides a service detailing which accessories are required and which companies make these fittings. After the vehicles are modified, they are tested and officially endorsed as a vehicle made for people of determination.