Metro chaos prompts information campaign

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    Eugene Harnan  www.thenational.ae

    The Road and Transport Authority has devised a widescale awareness campaign for the Dubai Metro after a chaotic first weekend that saw a variety of problems, including hundreds of users arriving hours before the service was due to start at 2pm yesterday.

    A queue of passengers waits to go through the boarding turnstiles at the Khalid Bin Al Waleed station yesterday. Jeff Topping / The National
    A queue of passengers waits to go through the boarding turnstiles at the Khalid Bin Al Waleed station yesterday. Jeff Topping / The National

    The world’s longest driverless metro system attracted 30,000 people within its first two hours of opening on Friday.

    Those who arrived early blamed unclear information about train timings, while people asking price and ticket questions created long queues at ticket counters.

    As a result, the RTA will start a new advertising campaign during the next few days to educate the public and help them move more quickly through the stations.

    The campaign will run radio, television and newspapers advertisements throughout the week.

    “We have already started talking on radio and to newspapers about the Metro,” said Peyman Younes Parham, the director of marketing and corporate communications for the RTA.

    “We have over 180 nationalities and so many different languages. we are going to embark on a heavy, heavy educational campaign like explaining fare structure again, buying tickets and what type of tickets are available, the fines, courtesy and ethics on the trains,” he added.

    Passengers directed questions to staff behind the counters about fare information and what types of tickets were available.

    “I knew where it would take me, but I didn’t know exactly how much and what type of card I needed. I think the ticketing system was too complicated,” said Pratik Vidihar from India last Thursday morning at the Nakheel Harbour and Tower station.

    The campaign will address the dangers of pressing the emergency button on the train, which the RTA said caused the worst problems. Passengers face a Dh2,000 fine for wrongly using the emergency buttons.

    The RTA started sending text messages to residents last night asking them to be ‘calm and courteous’ when travelling on the system and to ask staff if they had any questions. “Passengers should not abuse the system, which would result in legal action against them,” the text (SMS) message read.

    Last night, hundreds of people crowded the Mall of the Emirates station, as pushing and shoving occurred while impatient passengers were forced to wait for security to allow in 200 people at a time.

    The RTA’s instructions, broadcast through the stations, were largely ignored. “We are informing the public through TV screens and the PA systems. That is the key and we want people to listen to that. That is where we are telling people about what’s happening and what needs to happen and what the action is and how the service is.

    “A lot of people are not just paying attention right now to the staff on the trains. Nobody is asking them what to do or what is happening or what they need to do. We don’t want people to panic. We want them to relax,” added Mr Parham.

    The campaign is based on market research conducted a month before the Metro launched. The award-winning firm Saatchi & Saatchi created the advertisements for the RTA, which ran in national newspapers alongside radio and television advertisements.

    The firm was also responsible for the “My city. My Metro.” slogan that is currently on bridges and billboards throughout the Emirates.

    eharnan@thenational.ae