A look at the pros and cons of Dubai RTA’s smartphone apps

The National gives its verdict on six of the apps designed to make moving around Dubai, and the UAE, easier.

Smart Salik, one of the five apps launched in September, is by far the most popular mobile application with nearly 155,000 downloads. Satish Kumar / The National
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DUBAI // Thousands of residents are downloading the Roads and Transport Authority’s new mobile applications to get taxis, top up Salik, pay for parking, renew their licences and get live maps and instant traffic updates while driving around the city.

Smart Salik, one of the five apps launched in September, is by far the most popular with nearly 155,000 downloads, followed by the Wojhati, a journey planner app launched last year, with 148,638 downloads. Meanwhile, the two-month-old Smart Taxi app has already had 90,000 downloads.

“The Salik app and the Wojhati apps have done tremendously well,” said Abdulla Al Madani, chief executive of the corporate technical support services sector at RTA.

Wojhati helps people to plan their journeys on buses, taxis, the metro and the water bus. Once people feed in their location and their destination, the app gives the transport options, the journey time and its total cost. An update will be released soon to include the new Dubai Tram project.

“We have also added augmented reality to the app. If you don’t know where the bus stop is or in which direction, you have to use your phone’s camera to scan the location and the app will show you where the bus stop is,” said Mr Al Madani.

He said Smart Drive, which was launched only two weeks ago, had already been downloaded 31,000 times.

The app provides free navigation for the UAE and live traffic updates in Dubai, letting users know if there is congestion, crashes or diversions.

“If the route is red in colour, it means the cars are moving really slow or even stopping,” said Mr Al Madani. “Orange means there is some congestion but the traffic is moving, while green means the roads are free.”

The Smart Taxi app had also gained traction, he said, allowing people to book taxis, track the vehicles and rate the driver.

However, not all applications have been as popular.

“The one thing that people aren’t very well aware of is the Public Transport app, which has the Nol card top-up. Many customers aren’t realising that they can see the balance of their Nol card, top up and see the last few transactions you have done,” he said.

The authority said the Drivers and Vehicles app, which can be used to pay traffic fines, replace or renew driving licences, and to apply for renewal of vehicle registration, was also underutilised, with only 12,626 downloads.

“If your vehicle is less than three years old, you don’t need to go to the testing centre. You can renew it using the app in less than three minutes, once you have paid the insurance company,” said Mr Al Madani. “The registration card can be picked up from the RTA centre or can be sent by normal post or by courier for a fee. People don’t realise what it can be used for and how useful it is.”

The Smart Parking app, which can be used to pay for parking, will also soon alert drivers to available parking spaces in congested areas and major malls, including disabled spaces.

The Smart Parking pilot project will by the end of the year have 390 parking sensors installed on the Sheikh Zayed Road service lane, leading from the Crowne Plaza hotel to the Shangri-La hotel.

In the accompanying photo gallery, we give our verdict on six of the RTA’s most popular apps.