Speculation was rife in the months leading up to the official opening of the long-awaited Dubai Metro – not only were there queries over the tickets and timings of the trains but the main question on everybody’s lips was ‘who will use it?’
Figures from Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) show an average of 50,000 people have been hopping on the driverless trains every day and a trip along the Red Line shows there is a wide range of commuters using the service. Students are taking the metro to college, businessmen are heading to and from the Dubai International Finance Centre station for meetings and tourists are stopping off at the Mall of the Emirates and Burjuman to stock up on souvenirs.
James Cadbury, 39, is in Dubai visiting friends. While they are at work, he has been using the metro for a sightseeing tour.
“I went from the Jebel Ali end right to the other end this week and it was a good way to see the city for the first time,” he said. “I was impressed with how smart the trains are. Although if you’re using it to get to work, you might want it to go a bit quicker.”
Earlier this week, the metro reached the one million-passenger milestone, just 16 days after opening.
RTA spokesman Peyman Younes Parham, said: “Statistics coming from the Rail Agency speak volumes, particularly noting that the metro ridership has hit one million in record time – unprecedented in public transport in Dubai.”
Delays have been reported at stations including Rashidiya and Khalid bin Waleed in the last three weeks but staff have said longer waiting times for trains have been down to the sheer volume of people heading to the busiest stations at peak times. So far, Mall of the Emirates and Rashidiya are among the most popularly used stations.
On the third day of the Eid holidays, 49,521 passed through them respect-ively. The RTA has since issued advice to travellers encouraging them to plan their journeys and buy tickets in advance, especially when riding across both zone one and two.
Initially, there was also discussion over whether the opening of the metro would impact on taxi drivers. Some feared their customers might swap cabs for the train in order to save cash. But Abdul Mohammed, who has been a taxi driver in Dubai for 11 years, told 7DAYS that business has been steady.
“The metro has not affected us too much yet,” he said.
“But now there are only ten stations. When all the stations are open, then a problem will come.”
But with the RTA remaining tight-lipped on when the other stations are scheduled to open, it is still unclear how long it will be before the full service is up and running.
Jonnel Boedo, 34, a shop assistant, said:
“I came from Deira City Centre to Mall of the Emirates where I work although today I have been window shopping, not working. I have been using the metro because it is much cheaper than a taxi. Sometimes there is too much traffic on the roads and the buses take a very long time.”
Ali Virann, 18, a student, said:
“I study at the American University of Dubai so a friend drops me off at Al Jafiliya station and I get the train to Al Rigga, where I live. It’s much better this way and saves a lot of money.”
Krishme Shankar, 23, unemployed, said:
“I have been using it quite a lot – to go and see friends and go shopping. I use it about three times a week at the moment and have been using it to get around while I’m applying for jobs as well.”
Vikrant Magdum, 30, unemployed, said:
“I am new to this town and have arrived here from Mumbai to find a job in the hotel industry. I have been using the metro for job interviews. I visited here two months ago and it was very difficult to travel around. Now the trains are running, everything is much easier.”
Ahmed Ali, 35, [and family], said:
“I live in the marina and I have a car so I don’t use the metro but my family are here from Kuwait and the children wanted to travel on it. They saw the RTA adverts and kept asking me if we could go, so here we are.”
Estelita Valenzola, 36, hospital worker, said:
“I live in Bur Dubai so I can get it from there which is good for me. I love the trains – they are clean and they smell nice, not like the buses. And it is quite quick and a good price.”