By Shafaat Ahmed www.khaleejtimes.com
New stations, new trains, new feeder buses and most importantly, new commuters – Dubai Metro zips ahead with renewed vigour as it gets the biggest multi-pronged boost in its eight-month journey.
As the seven new stations throw open their doors to the public today, the service adds several new elements to the rail system, besides adding new commuters.
According to Ramadan Mohammed Abdullah, Director of Rail Operations at RTA, the new stations and additional facilities will increase Metro’s capacity by a great margin. “The new facilities will increase the capacity of Metro by 50 to 75 per cent from the current level,” said Abdullah, speaking to Khaleej Times.
To cope with the influx of passengers the new stations will bring, RTA has introduced 10 new trains, which will complement the current 11, taking the total number of trains to ply the Red Line to 21.
Although all the stations besides the 11 currently operating are ready, only seven will open today, three more are scheduled to open on May 15 while the remaining eight will be opened on phased basis before the end of this year. By the end of 2010 all the 29 stations on the Red Line are expected to begin operations.
Announcing the opening of new stations and the basis on which they are selected, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of RTA Mattar Al Tayer said: “All the works on the remaining 18 stations on the Red Line of Dubai Metro project are complete and of these, seven stations will be opened on April 30 and three others are planned to be opened on May 15.
“The stations have been selected based on the extent of population density in the locality served by each station so as to provide convenient services to the inhabitants in the neighbourhood, availability of commercial activities in the area served by each station, availability of government activities in the vicinity of each station, the station integration with other modes of transport such as buses and means of water transport, and the projected number of commuters at each station.”
More stations mean more passengers and more passengers mean more stops, but it doesn’t mean more time to travel. In fact, there is every chance that the travel time would be reduced. “The total time for one way trip from Al Rashidiya to Ibn Battuta Mall is expected to be 55 minutes pending further confirmation,” informed Abdullah.
This is being made possible by a reduction in average stopping time of trains at each station to 30 seconds. The headway time will also be reduced to 8 minutes during off peak hours and 6 minutes during peak hours.
With the new developments metro’s daily ridership is projected to reach 140,000 from the current 80,000. When asked what is the basis of the projection, RTA’s Director of Marketing and Communications Perham Younus Peyman said, “Stations are selected based on the density of population around it and nearby facilities.
“We had 70,000 average daily riders till December and it suddenly jumped to 80,000 with the opening of Burj Khalifa Station, 10,000 users of just one station. Imagine what stations in Karama and Marina would do, they are very large in terms of population in the vicinity and facilities and activities in the areas.”
However, he said that the projections are made using detailed ridership studies.
To facilitate the added flow of passengers and new facilities RTA has also launched three new feeder bus routes and merged and changed several existing routes.
The seven new stations opening today would be: Emirates, Airport Terminal 1, Al Karama, Emirates Towers, Dubai Internet City, Marina and Ibn Battuta. Three other stations scheduled to open on May 15 are: GGICO, World Trade Centre and Al Qouz.