Dubai Metro: A glimpse of life

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By Anupa Kurian, Readers Editor  www.gulfnews.com

Faster than cars, faster than fairies in pumpkin carriages, the gold shell stations whistle by. Over towers, trees and through a tunnel the Dubai Metro flies with the city’s people — over 10 million to date, as per the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

    *  An average of 63,986 people using the Metro daily. The train system appears to be quite popular with the younger generation.     * Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
* An average of 63,986 people using the Metro daily. The train system appears to be quite popular with the younger generation. * Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

It’s become a way of life for some and an easy alternative for many. The blue trains took to the Red Line on September 9, 2009. Six months on, we attempt to find out how Dubai residents are using the mass transit system.

Rajesh Chaturvedi is a man for whom the minutes and seconds count. An accountant by profession he would spend an average of four hours every day commuting to and from work. The journey from Bur Dubai to the Dubai International Financial Centre, as the crow flies should not take more than 30 minutes.

“I would leave home by 7.30 and reach office by 9.30am. I had to change buses and would be tired waiting in queues,” he told Gulf News.

The evenings were not much different. He would leave work by 6.15pm and stagger home two hours later. “My wife was always complaining … I was too tired to go out in the evenings.”

The Metro helped the 34-year-old Indian discover life. “Now I leave home at 8.40 and reach work by 9.15am!” He wakes up at 8am and uses the commute time to listen to the news and music on radio.

“I am happy and my family is happy … it is so much more relaxing,” Chaturvedi said.

“I see a lot of people including Emiratis take the Metro to work … they get off at the Financial Centre station,” she said.

Sana leaves home in Mirdif at 7am, takes a bus to the Rashidiya station and travels to the Mall of the Emirates. From there she takes a taxi to the university. The commute time is about 90 minutes in each direction.

“I use the Metro for safety and it is more cost effective. I return quite late, sometimes it is 9 or 10pm because of my studies. I take the train because there are people around rather than being alone in a taxi,” she said.

“Also taking a taxi for the entire distance would mean I end up paying more than my tuition!”

She hopes that Nakheel station, which is closest to her university will open soon. “I am in my freshman year so the schedule is not that busy but next year there is going to be more work. I won’t be able to spend so much time commuting.”

The train system appears to be quite popular with the younger generation. Uday Bhatia, a 14-year-old student from a school near the Dubai Marina area, said: “A lot of kids use the Metro … many students from my school use it.”

He was speaking to Gulf News at the Khalid Bin Al Waleed station. Bhatia prefers the train as he “hates” sitting in a car stuck in traffic.

Mums and babies

Claire Elven-Dechoux, a 35-year-old British mum, uses the Metro to get around with her 18-month-old son, and avoid taxis, traffic and save money. She said: “I use the Metro a couple of times during the week to visit friends and go to malls. It is very helpful and quite easy to travel with a baby.”

For Naweed Lalani, who takes the Metro from the Al Rigga station in Deira to his office along Shaikh Zayed Road, it is the joy of arriving at work relaxed and free of stress.

“It takes me 22 minutes from home to work each day. Earlier it used to take 45 minutes to an hour on the return journey,” said the financial consultant. He takes the train to work around 7.50am and returns home at 6.20pm.

“I can now take the Metro, read the paper and start work early on my Blackberry. Earlier there was also the issue of finding parking.”

Lalani finds the train journey to be a great opportunity to study people and social behaviour. “I am a youth motivational speaker and can observe attributes that link to an age group.”

However, the best aspect of the Metro, he feels, is that it is a great social equaliser. “I see people who earn well, UAE nationals and others using the system. It is nice to see the respect that nationals show the women and the elderly. The Metro keeps you down to earth.”

In figures

  • 1.58m – passengers at the busiest station — Mall of the Emirates
  • 63,986 – average number of people using the Metro daily
  • 447,902 – average number of peopleusing the Metro weekly