x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Commuters welcome low price of Metro trips

Inexpensive tickets win over many in the Dubai workforce, but some say the difficulty of getting to stations could be a problem.

A Metro train parked at Jebel Ali station in Dubai.
A Metro train parked at Jebel Ali station in Dubai.

DUBAI // "With these prices I think everyone will use the Metro," said Yohash Kherajan yesterday. "I was expecting them to be around Dh15, but the maximum, Dh6.50, is an excellent price. I will be using it to get to and from work."

The 30-year-old, who works in Deira but lives in Bur Dubai, was one of many residents who said the newly announced Metro prices had convinced them to use it once it opens in September. Short journeys on the Red Line will cost only Dh2 - and as little as 90 fils for students and the elderly, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said. Ellen Rodriguez, 40, currently takes the bus to her job at the Burjuman Centre and said she would continue to do so. However, she said she would use the Metro to go further afield.

"The price of the Metro is very good, especially to travel a long distance, like Jebel Ali," she said. "So as long as it is not more expensive than the bus, then yes I will use it - although it also depends on where the Metro stop is. The bus is very convenient at the moment." Marie De La Cruz, 34, said that while the prices seemed reasonable, she would like to see the Metro running all day and night. The RTA has not yet released information about operating times. "If it was 24 hours, then those who work late at night somewhere like Dubai Marina or Jebel Ali would be able to get home safely and for a good price.

"The advantage is that it avoids the traffic, and the price makes it more convenient to travel than to take a taxi." A number of people said that although they intended to use the Metro, they had concerns about how easy it would be to get to the stations. The RTA plans to run "feeder" buses to shuttle commuters between the stations and their homes and places of work, but many people are also expected to drive part of their journey and then leave their car.

"I live in JLT [Jumeirah Lakes Towers] but work in Rashadiya," said Savio Noronha, 32, "and my work means I have to drive a lot during the day, so I won't really be using it, but the price is really reasonable. "The only problem is that it is a skeletal Metro. What happens once you get off the Metro? That's where the prices add up, getting cabs from the Metro station to other locations." During yesterday's press conference to announce the fares and introduce the Nol travel card, Mattar al Tayer, the executive director of the RTA, said three multi-storey car parks were under construction at Jebel Ali, Al Qusais and Rashidiya.

They will be free for people who then use public transport, while others will have to pay Dh10 an hour or Dh50 per day. Executives at some malls have privately expressed concerns that their car parks might be used as a dumping ground for commuters' vehicles. Mr al Tayer reiterated that not every station would be open when the first Metro trains start up in September. "There would be no point in opening a station where there are no buildings finished," he said.

"If you go along Sheikh Zayed Road you will see buildings under construction so why would I add to the operating cost?" Mr al Tayer also refused to comment in depth on the fate of the Purple Line, which was originally meant to link the existing Dubai International Airport with the new airport at Jebel Ali. "It is still under study," he said. He said a number of factors, including changes to the design of some elements of the Metro stations, had caused the cost of the project to rise "by some billions of dirhams".

"We are still calculating now so I can't give an accurate figure, but the government is aware, we are aware, and we have planned for our financial future." gmcclenaghan@thenational.ae nsamaha@thenational.ae