Analyst claims Dubai metro station delays highly likely

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    Most stations on Dubai Metro’s red line will “almost certainly” be delayed beyond the system’s September 9 launch date, a transport analyst has claimed.

    Jose Paul, automotive and transportation expert at consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, said on Monday that uncontrollable influences would force the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) to open some stations later than planned.

    “It is almost certain that the metro will be open with only a few stations in operation in the first phase,” he said. 

    “A lot has changed between when the target dates were announced initially and now. Economic slowdown, delay in various critical real estate projects and change in demand patterns are some of the key factors which have significant impact on a project of this magnitude.

    “Given this background, it is definitely commendable that the RTA is working towards the aggressive deadlines it had set initially.”

    The comments follow RTA claims that all metro stations will be open next month. A spokesperson for the authority dismissed suggestions of delays when speaking with Arabian Business earlier on Monday.

    But doubts remain over whether all stations will be ready on time.   

    Paul insisted any public backlash, should the $4.2bn metro not be fully operational next month, would be temporary. He also said a delay to the stations’ openings would have no long-term effect on demand.

    Stations in areas of public interest, such as Deira City Centre and Mall of the Emirates, would be opened first if delays occured, Paul added.

    While some stations may not be operational from September, Paul said it was critical for the RTA to ensure parking facilities and feeder bus routes were up and running.

    “If the car parks and feeder bus systems are not in place, it could affect the usage of the metro considerably,” he said. “Very few commuters are likely to use alternate public transport options to get to a metro station.”

    He also said parking fees at Dubai malls for people leaving cars longer than four hours was fair. “Having parking fees has its merits and demerits. Malls are often faced with ‘non shoppers’ occupying parking space for many hours and the introduction of the metro compounds the problem further.

    “Many commuters are likely to look at mall car parks as a convenient place to park before boarding the metro and this will result in problems for genuine shoppers.

    “Burjuman is a good example where introduction of parking fees has helped clear congestion and resulted in hassle-free parking for shoppers. The parking fees are usually waived against any purchase at the mall, thereby benefiting the customers at large.”

    www.arabianbusiness.com   by R. Morris