x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Dubai commuters swap their cars for the Metro

Taking advantage of the opening of three new Metro stations, many more commuters looking to escape the daily traffic grind leave their cars at home.

The newly opened Ibn Battuta Station.
The newly opened Ibn Battuta Station.

DUBAI // Taking advantage of the opening of three new Metro stations, many more commuters looking to escape the daily traffic grind left their cars at home yesterday. It was the first big test for three of the seven stations that opened on Friday. The Ibn Battuta, Marina and Dubai Internet City stops are notable for their proximity to homes and offices, and yesterday, the first day of the work week, found them alive with commuters who were breaking their habit of driving to work.

"I'm looking forward to it. It takes the same amount of time to get to the Burjuman on the Metro as it does driving," said Masould Kourzer, 34, an Iranian textile merchant who left his car at his apartment in Jumeirah Lake Towers. "I live right next to the [Marina] station and I already tested it yesterday to see how long it took me to get to work." With his brown leather briefcase in one hand and a newspaper in the other, he said he planned to relax during his journey.

"There is no traffic or stress when you take the Metro," he said. "I can't do this when I drive. I am going to relax before I take the day on." Some chose the option of doing a little work before their workday began. Maria Yarovya, who works as a sales consultant at the Dubai International Financial Centre, arrived at the Marina station carrying a personal computer. She left her Mitsubishi 4x4 at home in favour of taking the metro to the Financial Centre stop.

"I have my laptop with me so I could catch up on some work if I have to," she said. "It is easier for me to take the Metro. There are no issues with parking and it is generally easier to get to the office. It usually takes about half an hour when driving and this should be the same." Parking was an issue in places. One building in Jumeirah Lake Towers initiated a security-sticker system to deter motorists from using its car park as a park-and-ride facility.

Alighting and disembarking at the same stations as Ms Yarovya, and carrying the same equipment, was Mukand Bhatnayar, who also left his 4x4 behind. He said he had time to experiment with the Metro. "It takes about five minutes to get to the station," he said. "I am checking it out today to see if it will work for me. I want to see how much time it takes to get to the office." Mr Bhatnayar added, "From door to door it is about 25 to 30 minutes driving. If there is no major difference in the time, I'll the use the Metro more often." The system's ease of use has convinced some to give up even thinking about road-going transportation.

Tigran Murdagal, an auditor for Deloitte & Touche, said he has never needed to buy a car in Dubai. "The Metro gets me to where I want to go most of the time," he said on his way to the Financial Centre station. "If my parents are here on holidays or if I want to go to Fujairah for a weekend, I'll rent a car. Other than that, I don't need one. "I could get a car but I enjoy the Metro." Some wanted to see whether the system was consistent. Christine Brennan, a lawyer from Ireland who works in the Emirates Towers, opted for the Metro instead of taking a taxi. The stations most convenient to her, Marina and Emirates Towers, were two of the seven to open on Friday.

"I'll see how it goes," she said. "If it is quick and reliable, I'll use it." Reliability was an issue on Saturday afternoon, when a large stretch of the Red Line shut down for several hours. Service was halted after a train stopped at Nakheel Harbour Tower, the Roads and Transport Authority said. A bus service was arranged for passengers before the resumption of normal service that evening. The other three stations to open on Friday were Emirates, Airport Terminal One and Al Karama.

eharnan@thenational.ae