The Big Debate: Will you ditch your car for the Metro?

    By Carolyn Proud
    His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will officially open the much-awaited Dubai Metro on September 9. From then, 11 trains will travel six times an hour between 10 stations on the Red Line.

    The remaining 19 Red Line stations will open within six months, with the second sprawling section of the network, the Green Line, scheduled to open next year.

    The Metro opening marks an historic shift for Dubai, a city which until now has had limited public transport options compared to other major international destinations. Dubai’s clogged road networks and resulting traffic snarls have in recent years become the stuff of legends. The bus services have not always been convenient for everyone and taxis here are widely considered as expensive.

    The 09/09/09 Metro opening is a construction feat of mammoth proportions, with only three-and-a-half years passing since Sheikh Mohammed laid the first foundation stone of the project in March, 2006.

    The Roads and Transport Authority hopes the public will quickly embrace the rail network as their primary mode of transport, and is sinking an extra Dh12.5 billion more than initially planned into extending it. It will also ramp up bus and taxi services and bicycle paths to complement the Metro, with hopes of providing Dubai with a world-class, integrated transport system.

    Millions have also recently been spent on the ‘My City, My Metro’ advertising campaign to educate Dubai residents about the network and its feeder public transport systems. In short, everything has been done to ensure that next Wednesday’s Metro launch is as successful as possible.

    Thousands are expected to ride on the Metro during its first few weeks’ opening, but many residents say they may wait until more stations open down the track.

    So what are your plans? Will you just take a joy ride or will you use the Metro as regular transport to work or while shopping?

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