Cutback monorail launches amid price concerns

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    Dubai-owned developer Nakheel on Wednesday officially launched a cutback version of its delayed monorail on the Palm Jumeriah amid questions over how many people will use the service due to its high ticket prices.

    A train on the Palm Monorail passes along the track. Dubai-based developer Nakheel officially opened the much-delayed monorail on its Palm Jumeirah man-made island on April 30, 2009, taking the media on a tour of the transport system on May 6. Photograph: Mehdi Shirazi/Maktoob Business
    A train on the Palm Monorail passes along the track. Dubai-based developer Nakheel officially opened the much-delayed monorail on its Palm Jumeirah man-made island on April 30, 2009, taking the media on a tour of the transport system on May 6. Photograph: Mehdi Shirazi/Maktoob Business

    A single fare to travel the 5.45 km from the Gateway Station at the trunk of the Palm to the Atlantis hotel on the crescent costs 15 dirhams ($4), while a round trip fare costs 25 dirhams.

    This compares to a proposed fare for the Dubai Metro, which spans the entire city, of under 4 dirhams. Dubai Road and Transport Authority (RTA) Chairman Mattar al-Tayer said last year the fare would be “less than Salik”, which is 4 dirhams.

    Marwan al-Qamzi, executive managing director of Nakheel Southern Projects, defended the fares, but admitted the developer was looking at ways of boosting passenger numbers such as introducing car parking charges on the Palm.

    “We are looking at various options to push people to use the public transportation system,” Qamzi told reporters during tour of the monorail.

    But he said there were no plans to stop people driving to Atlantis.

    Since its soft opening on April 30, six months later than originally planned, the monorail’s four trains have shuttled around 600 passengers a day up and down the trunk of the Palm.

    The monorail has the capacity to carry 2,400 passengers per hour in each direction.

    Qamzi said the monorail could be increased to nine trains with a capacity to ferrying 6,000 passengers per hour in each direction if there was demand.

    Qamzi would not give forecasts on passenger numbers.

    The 1.4 billion-dirham monorail was designed and constructed prior to a global financial crisis that has severely impacted Dubai’s real estate market, leading to a collapse in property prices and billions of dollars worth of projects cancelled or put on hold.

    Among the casualties are the Trump Tower and Palm Mall on the Palm, both of which were planned to be stops on the monorail. The two stations are completed, but will not be opened because the developments they serve have not been built.

    Qamzi could not say when the stations would open.

    The monorail is part of Dubai’s public transport infrastructure push to cut congestion that also includes construction of two metro lines across the city and a tram line in Jumeirah.

    The monorail will connect with both the metro, which is due to open in September, and tram, which is scheduled for completion in 2012.

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