RTA and Etihad Rail sign payment system agreement

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Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Etihad Rail have signed an MoU to develop the service's ticket booking and fare payment solutions system.

His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the UAE, and His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Etihad Rail, witnessed the signing at the World Governments Summit, in Dubai.

The partnership aims to strengthen Etihad Rail's efforts to develop high-standard passenger trains, ensuring a safe, reliable, and convenient travel experience across the national railway network.

The RTA is also looking at improving its existing nol system by transitioning from its current plastic card technology to a more sophisticated digital payment system.

His Highness said: “This MoU will foster integration among federal and local entities. It is an important step to introduce ticket reservation and payment systems, which will be available to Etihad Rail’s passengers across the UAE. It marks a milestone in driving the integration between RTA’s transport modes and Etihad Rail, which represents a massive addition to the UAE’s mass transportation.

“The directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, call for enhancing coordination and collaboration among government institutions, exchanging pioneering expertise between entities, establishing a unified digital platform, and developing shared digital capabilities. The ultimate goal is to offer integrated, user-friendly, and efficient digital services,” he added.

Commenting on the agreement, His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Etihad Rail, stressed the importance of the partnership between Etihad Rail and the RTA in unifying their collective endeavours, enabling Etihad Rail to leverage RTA’s expertise in deploying smart technologies and solutions.

He also noted that these plans are a key part of the broader framework of the national railway network, which, in a short period and thanks to the directives of the country’s wise leadership, has achieved a leading position within the growing transportation and infrastructure sectors in the UAE, consequently, driving economic development through a diverse and inclusive workforce, in line with the UAE’s position as a regional and global transportation hub.

In 2023, the daily average of nol card use amounted to 2.5 million payment transactions valued at more than AED2 billion. The number of active nol card users has surpassed five million, with over 30 million cards being sold since the system was introduced in September 2009.

RTA had recently contracted a project to upgrade the existing nol system, which involves transitioning from traditional plastic card technology to a more sophisticated system supported by digital payment technologies known as Account Based Ticketing, aligning with top international practices at an estimated cost of AED350 million.

The project aims to introduce a digital payment system using central transportation tariff wallet technology, fostering seamless integration among various transportation modes in Dubai. It offers numerous advantages and benefits, including the comprehensive advancement of payment system technologies to meet the rigorous standards of electronic and financial security. Moreover, it focuses on operational enhancements and maximising the benefits from system-generated data, while also tailoring services and products to meet individual customer needs.

RTA rolled out the nol Card in September, 2009, coinciding with the launch of the Dubai Metro. Since then, the card has eased the movement of public transportation users and streamlined the payment of public parking fees in Dubai. In 2017, RTA expanded the card’s uses to encompass payment services at retail stores and entry fees to various public and private facilities across Dubai. This expansion resonates with RTA’s digital strategy aimed at broadening nol Card services.

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