Life in Dubai Metro exposed

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By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter  www.gulfnews.com XPRESS

TRAIN STORY

Dubai : It’s 6.20pm at the Mall of the Emirates (MoE) Metro station. As commuters watch the world below them on Shaikh Zayed Road slowing down due to evening traffic build-up, they also brace themselves to dart into a packed train.

    *  Passengers battle for space in the Metro     * Image Credit: XPRESS/Abdel-Krim Kallouche
* Passengers battle for space in the Metro * Image Credit: XPRESS/Abdel-Krim Kallouche

Four months since its launch, Dubai Metro trains have turned into an awkward jumble of strangers smashed up against each other. In fact, commuters are even clamouring for additional trains during morning and evening rush hour.

At present, train intervals are 10 minutes apart on the Red Line, with 11 of the line’s 29 stations open. “I’ve used the train since its launch in September and it’s been a great experience,” said Ahmad, an Arab, who commutes from Al Rigga station daily to work at the MoE. “While more and more people are using it, the train frequency is still the same.”

Dubai Metro has ferried over 7.5 million Metro users in four months, with the MoE station topping the list at 1.2 million passengers, or more than 10,500 daily, according to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). Julios, a Filipino money exchange staff, takes the train daily from Jafiliya to the MoE and believes more trains during morning and evening hours might ease passengers’ woes.

“The Metro was the best thing that happened to Dubai last year. But it’s getting worse for passengers now. If the trains come every five minutes instead of 10 minutes during the 6pm rush (on the Rashidiya-bound line), it may ease the crowd,” he said. “There’s less traffic on Dubai’s roads now, but more squeeze in the Metro,” said Pradeep, an Indian executive at the Financial Centre station.

The Metro passenger rush is expected to go up when the 18 other stations are likely to open next month. However, RTA’s Rail Agency gave no immediate comments to XPRESS about improving the train frequency.

RTA’s Rail Agency opened the Dubai Mall Metro station on January 3 this year, taking over 30,000 passengers in six days.

According to Rail Agency figures, the Metro witnesses a huge turnout on Fridays, official holidays and public events.

Its park-and-ride facility is also being used in increasing numbers, with more motorists leaving their vehicles in the free-of-charge multi-level car parks next to Rashidiya and Nakheel Harbour stations. Moreover, the Metro’s feeder bus service also makes connectivity much easier.