DUBAI // Officials are proposing as many as eight new Metro stations for densely populated areas of eastern Dubai.
The 20-kilometre extension up to Academic City would serve college students and staff, vendors at a busy vegetable market and a growing residential community.
The recommendation forms part of an ongoing study by transport authorities into the feasibility of extending the Metro's Green Line.
"The population in these areas is growing very fast," said Abdul Redha al Hassan, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) rail planning and development director. "So because of the growth we said, 'Let us ... see if we can extend the line'."
Trial runs are under way for 18 stations on the 23-kilometre Green Line before it opens in August. A decision about the planned extensions will be taken in the third quarter of this year.
"It should be between five to eight stops more to serve these high-population areas," Mr al Hassan said. "You have International City, the Fruit and Vegetable Market and there is Academic City, so five is a minimum of stations."
Commuters who travel by company transport buses to Dubai's main market welcomed the RTA plan. The Fruit and Vegetable Market is one of the region's biggest, where fresh produce is unloaded from lorries that travel from as far as Lebanon and Egypt.
"The trains will always be full," said Mohammed Yakub, a vendor from Bangladesh. "There are thousands who come to work here. Maybe we will get more customers. With our low prices we can compete with big supermarkets."
Indian expatriate Muneera Wazi says she believed the Green Line ridership would outstrip that of the Red Line.
"There are so many here without cars who will willingly take the Metro," said Mrs Wazi, a resident of International City. "It will be ideal for my son who spends his money on cab fare to college in Academic City."
Some 149,000 passengers travel every day on the Red Line that links Dubai's north and south. Transport authorities say that number will go up to 270,000 with the Green Line opening. When complete, the Dh29 billion Metro will be the world's longest driverless rail system.
"The ridership will easily go up because most Green Line stations are within walking distance. People will love to use it," Mr al Hassan said. "On the Red Line, 50 per cent using the Metro don't live near the stations."
A final decision is pending.
"The study will be completed in the second quarter," Mr al Hassan said. "Nothing is finalised now. In August, there will be a recommendation to higher authorities."