DUBAI // Five more Metro stations opened yesterday to the welcome of residents who live nearby.
The latest phase of openings on the Red Line means 26 of 29 stations are now operating. The new stops are Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), Nakheel, Sharaf DG, First Gulf Bank and Business Bay.
They are a big boost for residents such as Myron Rodrigues, who runs a sports facility near First Gulf Bank. He hopes the easier commute will attract more customers.
"More people will visit us because they don't have to wait for their friends or cabs to pick them up. If they want to come play sports they can just take the Metro," he said. "This will definitely make life easier for a lot of people."
The First Gulf Bank station stands amid businesses that include car dealerships and warehouses and will help funnel employees to work faster.
Instead of paying a driver to fetch employees from Bur Dubai every day, Mr Rodrigues, 39, an Indian, plans to buy them Nol Metro cards - saving up to Dh2,000 a month.
He will also save 30 minutes a day now that he can take a train directly to work.
Some 20,000 more people are expected to use the five new stations, every day, bringing the total daily number of Metro passengers to 150,000, according to the Roads and Transport Authority.
The JLT and Business Bay stations will serve the growing number of people living and working in those areas. Sharaf DG and Nakheel provide links to nearby residences, schools and hotels.
Joan Dimachulangan, a 25-year-old nurse from the Philippines, does not own a car and used to walk 15 minutes to the bus station nearest her home in Business Bay. Now she can hop on the Metro within a few minutes. "It took long [on the bus] because they had to stop at every stop," she said, riding with her friend to the Mall of the Emirates.
To accommodate the new stops, 22 trains will traverse the Red Line during peak times for a service frequency of six minutes. During off-peak times, 16 trains will ferry passengers for a service frequency of eight minutes. Twenty-eight buses will run at the five stations at a frequency of 13 to 20 minutes.
The three remaining stations - Jebel Ali, Jebel Ali Industrial, and Energy, all sitting at the Jebel Ali end of the Red Line - will not open this year as the surrounding areas have not yet been developed. The Green Line is set to begin operations next August.
A new Metro station can also foster development, said Declan McCrohan, a business professor living in Jumeirah Lakes Towers. More shops and companies will be willing to open in JLT because it will be easier to bring employees here at low cost, he said.
The new station will also help the still-unfinished development feel more like a community, he said. Shops often sit empty and not many residents stroll around the neighbourhood where construction is ongoing.
With the new station "there will be more people walking around", said Mr McCrohan, 36 and Australian. "I think it'll bring a big change."