As the Kingdom sees an increased motorization and urbanization, it will gradually start implementing the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) next year, Col. Abdulrahman Al-Miqbel, chief of Riyadh Traffic Department, said here on Tuesday.

Addressing a symposium on the challenges of traffic and transportation in cosmopolitan cities in the Kingdom, Col. Al-Miqbel said the ITS will improve transportation safety and mobility and to enable people to make smart travel choices through the use of advanced information and communications technologies.

Designed in the 1990s and continuously developed, the ITS includes control and management systems, traffic detectors, variable message signs, and video surveillance cameras. The system combines real-time data for graphic displays with an open architecture for network and communications services.

The system features a broad range of wireless and wire-line communications-based information and electronics technologies to manage factors that are typically at odds with each other, such as vehicles, loads, and routes to improve safety and reduce vehicle wear, transportation times, time at traffic signals, and fuel consumption.

But all government agencies involved in traffic and transportation should work under a unified administration to curb the growing concern of bureaucracy that may halt this ambitious traffic project, Al-Miqbel said.

Vehicles in Riyadh make around 7 million trips a day now compared with less than a million trips a day some 20 years ago, he said. And this will increase to 15 million trips a day by 2021, he added.

Security comes with a price and sometimes at the expense of traffic convenience, said Lt. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, Interior Ministry spokesman. He was addressing the issue of the security barricades lying on a big chunk of street space across the city, compounding the traffic problem.

The barricades have been set up for security reasons, but it is a temporary situation, he said.
Motorists in Riyadh, however, may soon see a parking ticket under their windshield wipers issued by a private traffic company which has been tasked with handling parking violations starting Saturday, said Col. Al-Miqbel.

Traffic in Riyadh has become “sick” and it needs a good doctor, said Eng. Abdullah Al-Babutain, secretary general of the Riyadh Municipal Council.

Initially, the company will start its business in downtown Riyadh on King Faisal, Tariq Bin Zayad, and Batha Streets, Al-Miqbel said. The private company, however, is still to come forward with its measures for paying the ticket or contesting it and types of parking offenses.
Coupled with an apparent lack of traffic awareness, the population growth and ongoing recruitment of foreign labor has contributed to unprecedented traffic jam and violations in the Kingdom including parking in restricted places and in an unauthorized manner.

Also, the lack of off-street parking facilities was believed to be a major factor to the parking problem, traffic professionals said. Motorists went where they could park.

The symposium called for a state-of-the-art bus and subway transportation service within two years from now to operate on 30 meter-wide streets across the city to help ease more anticipated traffic congestion. – Okaz