Abu Dhabi toll gate system free until January

Trial period to commence from October 15, say authorities

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, September 18, 2019.  The new Abu Dhabi toll gate on Sheikh Zayed Bridge.
Victor Besa / The National
Section:  NA
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Motorists will not be charged under Abu Dhabi's toll gate system until January, the Department of Transport announced on Sunday.

Authorities said a free trial period would begin from October 15 and tariffs would come in from January 1, 2020.

"This trial period will provide residents more time to plan the best travel times and explore transport alternatives," the DoT said.

It also revealed that senior citizens, people with disabilities, retirees, low-income earners would be among those people exempt from the fees "according to eligibility".

Monthly caps for private vehicles were set at Dh200 and Dh150 for the second vehicle registered to a single resident's name. And a monthly cap of Dh100 was set for each additional vehicle.

The road tolls are part of government efforts to reduce congestion and encourage people to use public transport.

The department increased bus routes and introduced a carpooling system to encourage motorists to use alternative modes of transport and help reduce carbon emissions, which have risen in Abu Dhabi over recent years.

However, some have said there is a lack of public transport in the emirate, leaving people with little alternative to using their cars.

Recently, there have also been reports of a clampdown on cycling, with some claiming their bikes have been seized by police as part of what authorities said was a safety drive.

Commuters with cars registered outside the emirate were told to register for the system online — with an initial 10-day grace period set for unregistered motorists. But many said a problem with a text message confirmation system meant they could not complete the sign-up.

When registering on the website, drivers should receive a code allowing them to complete the process but many said the message never came.

Abu Dhabi residents — who do not need to sign up — have already been added to a registration database but were waiting for messages from police to explain how to pay for the toll charge.

Four gantries have been placed at the Sheikh Zayed, Maqta, Mussaffah and Sheikh Khalifa bridges — to charge motorists entering or leaving Abu Dhabi island.

Once the tariffs come into effect, drivers will be charged Dh4 during peak periods — 7am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm, Saturday to Thursday. A Dh2 off-peak fee applies outside these times, as well as on Fridays and public holidays. There is some good news for frequent users as maximum daily charges are capped at Dh16.