That the economic slowdown could delay construction of some of Dubai’s metro lines and the opening of some stations was bad news for commuters who had hoped that public transport would alleviate the city’s traffic problems.
But despite the slowdown and the doom and gloom in the headlines across the world, Dubai will rebound. It is a success story, and whatever the economic climate it will not abandon the business friendly model that made it so. The city will continue to improve and expand the infrastructure and facilities to attract even more businesses and residents, which stimulates even greater growth. The latest example of that, as we report today, is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s directive that the emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority speed up work to meet the scheduled deadlines for the city’s public transport system.
The urban planners behind the city clearly did not design a road network to handle the current volume of cars. Sheikh Mohammed’s vision for the city’s future will correct that miscalculation. A metro network will connect business and residential hubs. Modern bus terminals will connect the rest of the city. The abras on the creek, which carried more than 20 million passengers last year, will be replaced by high-capacity ferries. And the current design of the city’s roads, which tends to create bottlenecks in densely populated areas, will be revamped to encourage a smoother flow of traffic. Perhaps most ambitious, this is to be accomplished within strict environmentally friendly guidelines.
Undoubtedly the harsh realities of the economic slowdown must be taken into account. Building metro stops for unfinished developments, while a generous accommodation to developers, was never going to be practical. And the announcement that the construction of these stops will be delayed only makes sense.
When the downturn inevitably ends, Dubai must be in a position to exploit opportunities for growth. A modern, integrated and sensible public transport system will complement what the city has always had to offer: a world-class environment that provides equally world-class incentives for business. Only now, it will be a little more commuter-friendly.
March 22. 2009 8:30AM UAE