Effect of Public Transportation on Private Cars Ridership in Car Dominant Societies: The Case of Public Transport Adoption in the UAE

  • Mohamed Y. Al Sharhan

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


One of the key factors to becoming a developed city or country is the establishment of an advanced public transport system. Countries such as the Gulf Countries Council (GCC), where the cars to buses ratio is extremely high, are in dire need for a shift in mindset towards more sustainable transport options such as public transportation. Not only does the country need to invest billions of dollars in creating advanced public transport systems, it must also capitalize upon spreading awareness in order to emphasize the importance of this concept. Since its foundation in 1971, UAE has experienced rapid development in several sectors. Due to various economic, social, and environmental factors, the transportation sector continues to face major challenges including rising fuel prices, increased reliance on private vehicles, and increase in carbon emissions, etc. Although the transportation sector is attempting to adhere to environmental concerns by promoting more sustainable options of transportation, private cars remain the preferred mode of transport. In this study, we assess the needs and perceptions of people towards the establishment of an effective public transportation system in UAE. This is achieved through a set of surveys and interviews targeting the country’s residents. These interviews explore resident’s characteristics such as usage behavior, experience, sharing habits, and other behavioral aspects about public transportation. To understand the current direction of the public transportation policies, we reviewed and addressed different policies that helped limit the reliance on private cars. Although public transportation infrastructure developments are highly advanced in some regions, the level of adoption is not promising. As a result, a number of policies have been introduced and implemented worldwide to support the shift towards using public transportation. After identifying the gaps, drawbacks and limitations of the transportation grid in UAE, and understanding the commuter perception, a System Dynamics model will be used to demonstrate the relationship between the various identified factors and policies that could be implemented to increase public transportation usage. The developed model will assist in testing the proposed policies addressing the identified gaps given the limited accessibility and the current situation of the grid. Upon integrating the results of the policy review, the model analysis, and the local social acceptance, we then recommend the most suitable policies that support the adoption of public transportation in UAE.
Date of AwardDec 2013
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorSgouris Sgouridis (Supervisor)


  • Public Transport Systems
  • System Dynamics Model
  • Sustainable Transportation
  • United Arab Emirates.

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