Metro, monorail, trams - Dubai moves to have seamless connectivity

April 1st, 2008 - 10:46 am ICT by admin  

By Aroonim Bhuyan
Dubai, April 1 (IANS) With Dubai’s new metro rail system scheduled to be operational by Sep 9 next year, transport authorities in this booming West Asian metropolis are embarking to build a world-class public transport system that will include trams, water taxis and the monorail. In a sign that it wants its new metro system to be run in a professional manner right from the word go, the city’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) last week awarded the contract to run the new facility to seasoned British Rail system operating firm Serco.

“Such exercise will result in providing top quality services at lower costs along with sustained improvements to reduce operational costs. Additionally, it will enable RTA to focus on its core business of preparing legislations, overseeing implementation and compliance therewith, and supervising key projects,” Mattar Al Tayer, chairperson of the board and executive director of RTA, said after the signing of a 10-year agreement between the two sides here.

When the 15.5-billion dirham ($4.2- billion) first phase of the Dubai metro is commissioned for operation, trains will run on the 52- km Red Line from the Rashidiya area in the city to the Jebel Ali port on the southern outskirts of the city.

In all, the metro will have four lines - Red, Green, Blue and Purple - crisscrossing various areas of the city, becoming the world’s longest driverless fully automated metro system.

The building of new world-class public transport infrastructure in this desert oasis is not limited to the metro alone. Also on the anvil is a tram system in the Al Sofouh area in the city, which the RTA is planning to extend to the Jumeirah Road along the city’s coast.

According to reports, companies from France to Japan are vying for the two-billion dirham ($545-million) contract to build the new system.

When completed, the tram system would be linked with the main Dubai Metro system providing easy access to residents and tourists to the main public transport network in the city.

Also set to become operational by December this year is a new monorail system, the first such in the Middle East.

Being constructed on Palm Jumeirah, one of the three palm-tree shaped artificial islands being created along the Dubai coast on reclaimed land, the monorail will initially carry up to 2,400 passengers per hour per direction in four separate trains, each made up of three cars.

The 5.4-km long transport system, construction of which started in March 2006, will run between the Gateway Station at the trunk of the island and the Atlantis Station on the crescent.

As the population in this fast-developing global financial centre grows at a rapid pace - the current population of 1.4 million is projected to double by 2015 and cross the 5.2-million mark by 2020 - the city’s transport authorities are giving top priority to sprucing up the existing public transport system as well.

At a presentation in the University of Wollongong’s Dubai campus here recently, chief executive of RTA’s Rail Agency Abdul Majid Al Khaja said that a number of measures were under way to improve the situation over the next two years.

“The measures include increasing the number of public buses from the current 650 to 3,000,” he said, adding that marine transportation would be expanded by increasing the number of abras or traditional Arab sailing vessels and water taxis.

To run this integrated, intelligent transport system involving rail, roads, marine vessels, buses and taxis, a new seamless system is also being developed.

“The RTA has planned multi-modal stations (for the Dubai metro) that will allow passengers to transfer from one means of transport to another, conveniently and quickly,” Al Khaja said.

“A common fare structure will be in place and a smart card payment system will ensure smooth travel.”

And toeing Singapore’s line, the use of private vehicles will be increasingly discouraged. As of now, Dubai has 571 cars per 1,000 people compared to Singapore’s 111 cars per 1,000 people, Al Khaja pointed out in his presentation.

In Western cities, the ratio of trips made by walking or using public transportation as against using a car is 4:1, while in Dubai it is almost 50:50, demonstrating that people use their cars for almost every trip or outing.

Stating that existing measures like paid parking and road toll system were aimed at discouraging the use of cars, he said the Dubai authorities would follow the Singapore line in the future.

“Legislative measures could include heavier import taxes on cars, higher parking fees, increased petrol prices and steeper licence renewal fees, along the lines adopted by Singapore,” Al Khaja said.

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