By Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter www.gulfnews.com
Dubai: Metro operations will be revamped to offer services for more hours of the day once all the stations on the Red Line of the Dubai Metro are opened hopefully by the end of this year, Gulf News has learnt.
“We are considering to increase time but it will only be done after a comprehensive study of the usage of the Dubai Metro and the passengers’ needs and ridership is completed,” said Ramadan Abdullah, director of operations at the Rail Agency of the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
Talking to Gulf News during a tour of the seven new Metro Stations opened yesterday, Abdullah said expanding the Metro’s operation time did not look viable at present. The train currently runs from 6am to 11pm from Saturday to Thursday, and from 2pm to midnight on Fridays.
The RTA opened seven new Metro stations yesterday bringing the total number of operational stations to 18 while three more stations are scheduled to open on May 15.
“We have opened all the new stations successfully without any glitches,” said Engineer Adnan Al Hammadi, acting chief executive officer of the RTA’s Rail Agency, who toured the facilities with other RTA senior officials to ensure smooth opening of the station.
Al Karama Station remained the centre of attraction for officials as they expect huge crowd on the station because it serves one of the largest residential communities of Dubai. “We want residents of Karama to use the trains as they are convenient and affordable,” he added.
Other new stations which received big crowd yesterday were Ibn Battuta, Dubai Marina and Dubai Internet City (Tecom) while other new stations including Emirates Towers and Emirates which mainly serves the business centres, remained a bit quiet, it being a Friday.
The Metro operations resumed at 2pm yesterday with the increased number of 20 trains and increased frequencies as the waiting time at the stations was reduced from the earlier 10 minutes to eight minutes during off-peak hours and to six minutes during peak-hours.
“All the feeder buses are now in place to serve the new stations as we expect a sharp increase in the ridership from the current average 80,000 per day to around 140,000 per day with the launch of new stations and additional trains,” said Abdullah.
The stations opened yesterday were Emirates, Airport Terminal 1, Al Karama, Emirates Towers, Dubai Internet City, Marina and Ibn Battuta stations.
Passengers are Al Karama Stations were very delighted. “We have been desperately waiting for this station to open and we were very happy to be here today,” said Kunaal J.B, a student, who had reached the station well before its opening. Kunaal said that it would very convenient for him to use this station to go to his university in the Knowledge Village. “I can save a lot of money spent on taxis,” he added.
Sanjay Kanth, a banker, said that he regularly used metro. “Today, I took train from Al Rigga to come to Church in Al Karama and it is very convenient,” he said. He requested the RTA officials to least increase the operation time during the weekends.
Dilusha Samraweera, also a banker, that she takes train and feeder buses every day to commute to work from Deira to Khalid Bin Waleed Road. ‘I am very pleased with the service,” she said.
Meanwhile, a number of officials have also commented on the opening of the new stations.
Ali Al Soori, senior vice-president at Emirates Group, welcomed the opening of Emirates Station, which is directly linked to the Emirates head office.
“Our employees have been waiting for long for the opening of this station; which will ease their daily travel to work,” he said, adding that the Metro will also be vital mode of transport for those employees whose work requires shuttling between the Head Office and Dubai International Airport.
Malek Al Malek, managing director of the Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource Zone, said: “Dubai Internet City feel honoured that one of the Dubai Metro stations is to be named after Dubai Internet City. Dubai Internet City is a landmark destination in the UAE and the first among the Tecom Investments free zones.”
DIC is home to over 25,000 professionals who commute daily from across Dubai and other emirates in the UAE. “Opening of the new station will definitely help ease traffic congestion in area in addition to providing a fast and affordable mode of transport,” he noted.
Special discounted travel passes for students
Special discounted travel passes for students and those above 60 using the Dubai Metro and other public transport systems will be launched by the end of this year, said a senior official.
“We will gradually launch special passes for elderly and students and also monthly passes for general commuters by the end of this year,” said Mohammad Yousuf Al Mudharreb, director of the Unified Automated Fare Collection Department at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority.
Al Mudharreb told Gulf News during tour of the seven new stations opened yesterday that Silver Nol Cards, which are currently out of stock, would be available to passengers hopefully by May 25. “Passengers will be given Nol Blue Cards until we get supply of the Silver Nol Cards for travel in the economy class,” he added.
Al Mudharreb said that the RTA would gradually introduce different kinds of privileged cards and passes to attract more passengers to use public transport. Special discounted fare cards for those above 60 and students will be the next to be launched. Children under five years of age will get to travel free. The price of a 30-day pass for those in the above-60 age bracket will be Dh200 and it will be Dh170 for students availing unlimited travel.
The maximum cost of travel is Dh14 for unlimited trips on the Metro, public buses or water transport in the city.