• French public transport operator and Abu Dhabi conglomerate form JV
  • Department of Transport projects are the key target

French public transport operator RATP is preparing to bid for projects with the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport (DOT) to operate the bus networks of Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain and the upcoming metro and light rail or tram projects in the capital. RATP’s international subsidiary recently formed a joint venture (JV) with Abu Dhabi-based Lakhraim Business Group’s Zain Capital for this purpose.

The JV is also currently holding preliminary talks with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to enhance the bus systems in Dubai. UK-based Serco operates the Dubai Metro.

With a booming public transport sector, the GCC may be considered a ripe market for private operations and maintenance (O&M) companies like the RATP-Zain JV. The chronic historical underinvestment in public transport networks in the region has encouraged heavy reliance on private cars which have in turn caused traffic congestions and environmental issues especially in major cities.

RATP operates the Paris metro, tram and bus system while its international subsidiary RATP Dev, formed in 2002, currently operates and maintains passenger network systems across 12 countries in Europe, North and South Africa, US, Latin America and Asia. The subsidiary was aiming for revenue close to $1bn by end 2014.  Engineering firm Systra, which is actively involved in major rail projects in the GCC, is also part of RATP.