x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Commuters welcome opening of three more Metro stations

Red Line will be only eight stops short of being fully operational, with the remaining stations due to be in use by the end of this year.

The renamed Noor Islamic Bank station, previously known as Al Quoz, will open on Saturday.
The renamed Noor Islamic Bank station, previously known as Al Quoz, will open on Saturday.

DUBAI // The news that three more Metro stations will open on Saturday has been welcomed by residents and commuters. The new stations will leave the Red Line just eight short of its full complement of 29. The remaining eight stations should be in use by the end of this year. The stations to open on Saturday are the GGICO, in Al Garhoud, and World Trade Centre as well as the renamed Noor Islamic Bank station, previously known as Al Quoz, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said.

News of the confirmed openings stirred hope among residents who have grown frustrated over delays that have hampered the Dh29 billion (US$7.89bn) project since its original completion date of last September. Stations have experienced piecemeal openings, with the original 10 joined by one in January and another seven on April 30. "It's taken a long time," said Rajesh Kunhipurayil, 35, an Indian who lives in Dubai's Satwa area and plans to use the World Trade Centre station. "If it does open, it would be very useful for everyone. It would save people a lot of money."

He planned on using the driverless public transportation system for shopping trips to Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, among other venues scattered across the city. Still, the station he hoped to use was surrounded by construction barriers yesterday and there was no sign or any indication that it would open on Saturday. An additional 14 buses, operating at intervals ranging from 13 to 20 minutes, have been deployed to link passengers with the stations that are scheduled to open on Saturday. A total of 152 feeder buses now service the Metro, shuttling an estimated 4.5 million people between September last year and April, said Mattar al Tayer, the RTA's executive director.

The new services will be beneficial to potential passengers such as Stas Kuszmin, 25, a Russian dance teacher who commutes by taxi from the Satwa area. He also would use the World Trade Centre station. "To get to work and back costs me Dh35 one way," he said. "We've been hoping for this to open for a while." The RTA also announced yesterday that Noor Islamic Bank, a Dubai financial house, had paid an undisclosed sum for the naming rights of the former Al Quoz station. Its renaming brings a total of 21 of the Red Line's 29 stations under the naming-rights scheme, in which buyers are granted the rights for a 10-year period.

@Email:hnaylor@thenational.ae