x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Long, hot wait for the Metro shuttle

They were promised buses to shuttle them to the Dubai Internet City Metro station, but those who live and work near the stop are instead feeling the heat.

DUBAI // They were promised buses to shuttle them to the Dubai Internet City Metro station, but those who live and work near the stop are instead feeling the heat as they wait for the feeder service to be launched. Buses were to begin shuttling passengers to three of seven new stops, including Internet City, on April 30, Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced last month.

However, buses that should be taking residents to and from the nearby Tecom and The Greens communities are nowhere to be found as yet. Capitalising on the void, as well as soaring temperatures, are taxi drivers charging the RTA minimum fare of Dh10 (US$2.70) for two-minute drives to and from the station. "It's too difficult to walk in the summer," said Jamseer Mohammed, a 32-year-old Indian employed in the banking industry, as he made his way to a taxi waiting just outside the station. "You can't walk 15 minutes in this heat."

Mr Mohammed, who starts his daily commute from the Khalid bin Waleed station in Bur Dubai, said the Dh10 he then pays for the taxi ride from Dubai Internet City to his place of employment could be better spent. Some that live in the area, shunning the taxi option, make the short drive to the station in their own vehicles, park nearby and then walk. "A bus would be easier," said a perspiring Habib Suleiman, a 33-year-old Egyptian who works in the advertising business and lives in Tecom.

"It means I wouldn't have to get in my car, find parking, walk to the Metro. It would just take me right to it." Two weeks ago he would navigate on foot through the development's ripped-up pavements and construction debris to reach the Metro. The heat has forced him to drive the three minutes to the stop. He and other residents were uncertain as to when, or whether, the buses would begin service. There was no information displayed inside the station or on the RTA website about the delay despite last month's announcement. The RTA did not respond to questions about the issue.

A lack of clarity regarding available services seems to have dissuaded some of those who live and work in the area from using public transportation despite its proximity. "I guess it's too early to tell here if it works," said Matt Sayer, 44, an Australian who drives to his job in the The Greens. "Maybe next year I'll consider it. "I expected some problems in the beginning. Then I read about them in the newspaper, so what I thought seems to have become true."

Even if feeder buses were available, Mohammed Adil, a 30-year-old Egyptian who lives in Tecom and works near the Dubai International Financial Centre, said a lack of air-conditioned bus stops would prevent him from using them. "If I have to wait five or 10 minutes in the heat, I might as well just walk to the Metro," he said. hnaylor@thenational.ae