x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Firms nudging staff towards using Metro

To encourage employees to make the most of the Metro, companies and institutions are offering incentives including free tickets and private shuttle buses.

DUBAI // To encourage their employees to make the most of the new Metro, companies and institutions across the city are offering them incentives including free tickets and private shuttle bus services to and from stations. Among them is the University of Wollongong in Dubai, which expects high demand for the shuttle bus it will be running from tomorrow morning, connecting its campus in Dubai Knowledge Village to the Mall of the Emirates station.

"We have had interest from students asking about the shuttle service and how it will operate," said Raymi van der Spek, the university's vice president for administration. "The issue is about other students from other universities in Knowledge Village wishing to use our shuttle." Wollongong has more than 2,500 students, many of whom attend postgraduate courses in the evenings. Currently, 235 students pay for a bus service that brings them in from different emirates, and the university is studying the possibility of linking these services to Metro stations.

"That is not going to happen from day one, and we have to work out exactly how that service works," Mr Van der Spek said. "The first test is between the nearest terminal and university, which will be a free service to all our students with an UOWD ID card. "At this stage, it is all new, and we don't know exactly who will be using what and when, and how it will be adapted." Mohammed Johmani, founder of the O2 Network, a public relations firm based at the Dubai International Financial Centre will be paying for his 80 employees to ride the Metro every day to and from the Financial Centre station.

"Personally, I am in love with the Metro," he said. "Whenever I go to London, New York or Sydney, I use their metros, and I love the metro life, and I'd love to see the Dubai Metro be a success. I want to encourage the team to really use it." Mr Johmani said that a third of his employees had moved in the past few months to live closer to the Red Line. "All of them are saying, 'I want to move to Al Barsha or other places close to the stations'. I will encourage them to use the Metro to get to work or when they have meetings." To kick-start his employees' Metro habit, he will take the entire staff to the Financial Centre station tomorrow, he said.

The Kempinski Hotel at the Mall of the Emirates has teamed up with the Roads and Transport Authority to promote the Metro and the wider public transport system among its staff. "It is quite common in other parts of the world in cities for everybody, from hotel managers to waiters, to use the metro," said Holger Schroth, the Kempinski's general manager. "We are a bit away from something like this yet in Dubai."

It was too early to know whether employees would ride the rails between work and staff quarters in Satwa and other areas near Al Rashidiya station, but the hotel was thinking of issuing all employees with monthly tickets, he said. Dubai World Trade Centre said through a spokesman that it had also teamed up with the RTA, which would be conducting a feasibility study among its workers to identify key obstacles that commuters face in using public transport.

"We are looking to minimise single-occupancy car use by employees in commuting from and to their workplaces, by encouraging them to adopt car-pooling in their daily travels," the spokesman said. The trade centre is also examining ways of getting its employees from staff accommodation at Al Awir to the Red Line's main depot station, Al Rashidiya. eharnan@thenational.a>