By Beatrice Thomas
More to do before it captures 20% of journeys, says Beatrice Thomas
Dubai’s metro is a lot of things – it’s clean, efficient and smart in that it is driverless.
What it isn’t is part of a properly integrated public transport network, which is necessary in a city which has rapidly expanded.
While the red line effectively covers the length of Sheikh Zayed Road, as well as places like Deira and Dubai Airport and the green line covers most of the area hugging either side of Dubai Creek, there are still many gaps in the network for anyone wanting to travel east or west of Sheikh Zayed Road or north or south of the horse-shoed green line.
The new Al Soufah tram line will go some way to closing that gap at coastal locations, but there remain many key attractions and popular suburbs – Meydan Racecourse, Jumeirah, Bur Dubai – outside of the network, as well as aspirational key destinations such as Dubai Sports City, Motor City and developing business hubs such as Dubai Investments Park and the Jebel Ali Extension.
It’s with welcome news, then, that the RTA revealed that Dubai’s metro system will undergo an expansion on the back of the city’s 2020 Expo win.
Abdullah Yousef Al Ali, the CEO of the Roads and Transport Authority’s (RTA) rail arm, said it would be around 10-15km, with up to four new stations likely to be added.
The extension will push out from Jebel Ali to the Expo site next to the new Al Maktoum International Airport - effectively providing a direct connection between both city airports.
Along with the 3.5km extension bringing the red line from its Rashadiya terminus out to Mirdif City Centre Mall, and the 20.6km extension of the green line to Al Jaddaf, servicing International City, Academic City and Dubai Silicon Oasis, suddenly Dubai is developing an integrated transport system.
However, the gaps outlined above still largely remain.
At latest figures, the RTA says the percentage of journeys has increased from six percent in 2005 to 13 percent last year, with journey numbers climbing from 163 million to 330 million.
If it is to meet its target of 20 percent of all journeys by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030, the network will need to continue to expand – east and west, in line with the shape of the city’s growth.
Retrofitting public transport is costly and inconvenient, not to mention not always optimum in its design. Continuing the expansion of Dubai’s train network beyond this month's announcements is necessary and will be well-received.
They should think of having one station at Al Nahda Dubai side, behind Sahara Mall, to ease the traffic from Sharjah.