ABU DHABI //Plans for Abu Dhabi's metro network have been substantially scaled back, with the first phase now due to open by 2020.
The updated transport plans including a metro, two light-rail tram lines and a bus rapid-transit loop.
The original 2008 plans proposed a 130-kilometre metro network, but those released yesterday include 70km of metro line, with only 18km expected to be running by 2020.
"A lot of changes have been made to our public transport plans," said Khalid Hashim, the executive director of the land-transport sector at the Department of Transport (DoT).
Mr Hashim was talking on the sidelines of the International Association of Public Transport Mena Congress, a three-day conference in the capital, which ends today.
He said the new plans took into consideration routes with a large number of passengers, the congestion levels and reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions.
In its first phase, the metro will serve the main bus station Al Wahda, North Island (from Al Saada Street to the Corniche, including Reem, Lulu and Sowwah islands), Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and Zayed Sports City.
"Between stations the Metro can reach 80 to 100kph," said Hashim Al Hashimi, the director of public transport at the DoT. "If you include stoppage time, it will be 40kph as it has to wait for people to disembark."
Two 40km light-rail transit lines are expected to be operational by 2018. The first will be from Marina Mall, passing through Electra Street and Sowwah Island and out to Reem Island.
The second line will serve the Eid prayer ground on 15th street known as the "Eid depot", the central bus station, the Corniche Hospital on Salam Street and Saadiyat Island.
The new trams will have an average speed of 20kph, including stoppage time.
By 2016, the circular bus rapid transit (BRT) system will serve Sowwah Island, the Central Market, the Cultural Foundation and Abu Dhabi Municipality.
Mr Al Hashimi said this would run on dedicated bus lanes.
The network will serve attractions and destinations including Saadiyat Island, Reem Island, Sowwah Island, Central Market, Al Wahda Mall and the main bus station, the Cultural Foundation, Marina Mall, Mushrif Mall, Al Jazeera Club, Adnec and Zayed Sports City.
What the new plans do not include is the network spreading south and east from Abu Dhabi Island.
Original plans were for the metro to extend to Mohammed bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi International Airport and as far east as Shamkah. The tram was to serve areas to the east including Khalifa City A, Masdar, Al Reef and Yas Island, as well as linking up to the airport.
It was due to go as far south as the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi. None of this was included in the plans unveiled yesterday.
By 2030, phase one of the DoT's public transport network is expected to serve 823,000 passengers a day, eliminate 400,000 daily road trips and remove 105,000 cars from North Island daily, a DoT study shows. It estimates that by 2015, the annual cost of time spent in congested traffic would be about Dh2.5 billion, rising to Dh5.9bn by 2030.
The public transport network is expected to save 102 million hours of travelling time a year, on which the study puts an annual value of Dh3.8bn.
It estimates 23,000 accidents will be prevented each year, with a saving of Dh414 million.
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