x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Dubai Metro users left in the lurch by power failure

But the RTA says everything was back on track within 30 minutes.

DUBAI // More than half a million people chose to travel to and from their New Year's eve parties on the Metro, and only a tiny percentage in New Dubai reported facing problems when a 30-minute power outage caused delays.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) had announced the Metro would run for 24 hours to allow people to get home from their celebrations. A record 587,542 passengers took use of the service, with Burj Khalifa station, Business Bay station and Financial Center station accounting for the highest footfall, serving a combined 506,813 passengers.

There were also 322,066 passengers on public buses, 40,000 passengers on marine taxis and ferries and another half a million in taxis bringing the total public transport users to 1.45 million.

Besides minor traffic jams and a couple fender benders reported to police, the only transport hitch reported was at around 3am when a power shortage on the Red Line left commuters stranded for half an hour.

"There was just a lack of information as to what the delay was and how long it would take," said Diana Focke, an Abu Dhabi-based British TV production executive.

Ms Focke was trying to get a train at the Dubai Marina station this morning when she noticed they were not letting people on. "There were a lot of people who were trying to get a refund and leave, but it was clear that the situation was something that the [RTA] was not prepared for."

Ms Focke said she approached a uniformed officer who told her he had heard there was a fire at the Jumeirah Lake Towers station, and said she would be better off taking a taxi home.

"It would have helped if they had told people what was going on and provided buses to help get people where they needed to go."

In the end Ms Focke had to take a taxi home, but says she is still a big fan of the Metro and added that having it run for 24 hours was a great idea.

Ahmad Hashim Bahrzyan, chief executive of RTA's licensing agency, and head of RTA's emergency response team, was monitoring events up until 4am this morning along with his team. He refuted the guard's suggestion of a fire and said: "There was a minor power shortage at the Jumeirah Lake Towers stations which caused some delays, but it should not have affected the Dubai Mall or Burj Khalifa commuters.

"There were huge crowds - more than we had expected - and the rush lasted longer as well. We believe this was because the Metro was 24 hours and so people didn't feel like they had to rush to beat the traffic."

Mr Bahrozyan said the open gates at the Metro were very helpful in reducing chaos during the rush.

Traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road was still an issue, he said. It came to a complete standstill when the fireworks began.

"Thankfully though there were no major problems or serious accidents, so we see this as a success. But of course there is always room for improvement."

malkhan@thenational.ae