x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Eid holiday travel chaos on Metro

Thousands of passengers had their Eid holiday travel disrupted yesterday as technical problems on Dubai Metro continued for a second day.

Passengers queue for south-bound buses in Dubai after being stranded by technical problems on the city's mass transit rail system.
Passengers queue for south-bound buses in Dubai after being stranded by technical problems on the city's mass transit rail system.

DUBAI // Thousands of passengers had their Eid holiday travel disrupted yesterday as technical problems on Dubai Metro continued for a second day.

Dozens of feeder buses tried to cope with a swell of people left stranded by a disruption of service between Karama and Business Bay. Police kept the crowds organised and guided passengers to the replacement buses.

The problem began at about 5pm on Monday and normal service had not been restored by late evening yesterday.

Staff at Karama station said there were “technical problems”. No one at the Roads and Transport Authority was available for comment yesterday.

The city’s transport infrastructure is pushed to peak capacity at Eid. The RTA had already appeared to prepare for that by extending metro operating hours to between 5.50am and 1am.

However, there was no announcement of service disruption on the authority’s website or Twitter feed yesterday.

“It’s the first day of Eid and these trains should have been running,” said M. Swaminathan, 35, from India, who was planning to travel to Mall of the Emirates from his home in Karama. “It’s a big disruption.”

Jibi Kurian, also from India, had ventured out with his wife and two children from their home in Rashidya with a view to spending the evening at Mall of the Emirates.

However, they had to disembark at Karama and join a long queue for a seat on a designated metro replacement bus.

“We’ve been waiting here for 30 minutes already,” said Mr Kurian, who was close to the back of the queue. “We are thinking we might go home, because we will have to travel back from the mall in the same way.

“It’s a huge disruption, we didn’t know there was this problem. They should have told everyone beforehand.”

Aaron Rosete, 30 from the Philippines, said a commute from his office in Jebel Ali to his home in Satwa had taken an additional hour and a half the previous night.

Officers from Dubai Police shepherded passengers from the station and into orderly queues and had to intervene on several occasions to prevent a crush at the Karama station exit.

Station staff said that trains between Jebel Ali and Business Bay, and between Rashidya and Karama, were functioning normally.

“We don’t know when the service will be back to normal,” said one attendant at Karama.

Dozens of people Tweeted yesterday about their experiences on the metro. Mamdouh Badr wrote: “Had the worst experience at Dubai Metro today … seems the temperature was the reason. They had to move [the train] manually.” He claimed two trains almost collided and said he would lodge a complaint with the RTA.

People also reported heavy traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road as people took to their cars to avoid the delays on public transport. Marky Cortez tweeted: “Since Dubai Metro is not working fine, all the cars are out on the roads, thus heavy traffic here in Sheikh Zayed Road.”

On Monday, the last day of Ramadan, Twitter user @PreetSagar posted a picture of people scrambling to catch buses with the caption: “People who will break fast waiting for the bus due to Dubai Metro breakdown”.

mcroucher@thenational.ae