Six months on… Metro zips along


By Shafaat Ahmed

With nearly 12 million passengers travelling by Dubai Metro in just six months, the world’s largest driverless rail network is well on track.

Dubai metro
Dubai metro

Dubai Metro helps Dubai in its quest to become the city of the 21st century — a goal that is so aggressively pursued by its leadership.

According to the statistics compiled by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), since its launch on  09/09/2009 till the end of February 2010, around 11.29 million people travelled by Dubai Metro. And if its estimated daily ridership of 80,000 commuters is anything to go by, Metro should well have crossed the 12 million mark by now.

As the opening of new metro stations at several key locations — including Airport Terminal 1, Karama, World Trade Center and Ibn Batuta Mall – scheduled on April 25, the ridership is likely to shoot up faster. Considering the current trend and developments, the RTA expects the ridership to reach 35 million by the end of this year.

With the first half of the Metro Year behind us, we crunch the numbers to bring you the finer details of the railways’ performance.

If consistency is any virtue, Airport Terminal 3 (AT3) station deserves a mention first up for its truly amazing rate of consistency. According to the passenger statistics of the RTA, among the 11 stations that currently operate on the Red Line, the AT3 station has done consistently well to have the least passenger traffic on a daily basis. The station has been able to post a passenger turnout upwards of 4,000 on a day – 4,806 to be precise – only once, that was on November 19, 2009. It also has the dubious distinction of having the least passenger turnout on a single day — 1,151 on New Year Day.

Following closely in the consistency strata, though with opposite results, is the Mall of the Emirates (MoE) station. Posting the highest of 19,758 — which to date is the biggest turnout for any station on a single day — the station is by far the busiest. The station’s overall figure approached a staggering two million in six months.

Highlighting the special bond the Metro and the Mall of the Emirates has shared since the beginning, Ramadan Abdullah, Director of Rail Operation Department at the RTA Rail Agency, said, “The Mall of the Emirates Station is still the most attractive station to both commuters and tourists, as the total number of metro passengers who used the station from 09/09/09 up to February 2 this year reached 1,578,447, accounting for 16 per cent of the total passenger count.”

The Mall of the Emirates station took over as the topper from Rashidiya and Khalid Bin Walid (KBW) stations on the third day of Metro’s operation and has never looked back since, clocking highest posting everyday except for a handful of occasions when KBW took the lead. Rashidiya and KBW were the busiest stations on September 10 and 11 last year but were left behind since then by MoE station at fourth and second positions, respectively.

Though it has a highest single day’s posting of only 13,354 passengers, Union Square Station (USS) is another consistent performer, posting a five-figure turnout on more than two dozen occasions. USS is not far behind KBW at number three in stations’ listing.

In terms of daily traffic, both the best and worst days fell in the first month of metro’s operation. With passenger traffic of 97,881, September 21, 2009 has so far been the best day for Dubai Metro. The second best came just a day before when 97,524 people got on the trains.

Ironically, the worst days came when the excitement and euphoria surrounding metro was seemingly at the highest — the first week. But, the statistics prove it to be wrong. September 13, 14, 16 and 15 were worst four days of Dubai Metro with passenger turnout of 42,346, 42,782, 44,155 and 42,972, respectively. The average daily ridership is estimated at 80,000.

Passenger number picked up steadily in the second week of metro’s operation with two consecutive days attracting close to hundred thousand passengers, while dropping back to the lows of 40s by the end of September.

Understandably, September also proved to be the worst month with a total ridership of 1,196,920. The ridership figure kept improving every month and hasn’t dropped even once in the last six months. October posted 1,767,879, while November, December and January clocked 1,921,421, 2,006,324 and 2,186,393, respectively. Though the complete figures for February were not yet made available by the RTA, even a conservative estimate puts it around 2.5 million.

The best and worst days for the month of September are both the same as that of the general period.

However, whether it reflected people’s belief or it was just a coincidence, 13th proved to be the worst day for most months,

Thursday, 22nd, was the best for October with 73,124 passengers, whereas Tuesday, 13th, was the worst with 50,863 commuters.

In November, 28th day proved the busiest with 94,643 people, while 13th once again proved unlucky with 49,593 riders.

Last day of last year was the best day of December with 77,096, whereas 11th day proved the worst for the month with 44,424 passengers.

As for January, the top grosser was the fourth day of the month recording 88,357 passengers and the worst the first day with 53,742 travellers.

“Dubai Metro has succeeded in attracting millions of people towards using the metro as their main mode of transportation. It has also contributed in reducing traffic congestions and emission from cars and motorcycles, thus assisting in conserving the environment,” added Ramadan, pointing out the positive impact of the rail network on Dubai.

Public Transport at a Glance

The RTA’s mass transit modes including Dubai Metro, public buses, marine transport and taxis had transported more than 288.777 million people in 2009 and the daily ridership of public transport modes exceeded 842,000 people.

In 2009, a total of 120 million people commuted on public buses, with a daily ridership of 325,000 passengers.

The ridership of marine transport systems — abras and water buses — reached 17 million. Around 50,000 people sailed on abras daily and 1,500 people used water buses.

Taxis in Dubai emirate make about 192,000 trips everyday, carrying around 385,000 people. In 2009, taxis made trips in excess of 70 million serving around 140.45 million persons.

Among its strategic objectives, the RTA aims at raising the share of mass transportation systems from 6 per cent in 2009 to 30 per cent by 2020.