x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Metro expands into business districts

New stations at the World Trade Centre, Al Quoz and Al Garhoud are expected to encourage use because of their proximity to busy areas.

DUBAI // The first wave of weekday commuters will hit the Metro's three new stations in the city's busiest districts today, testing the expanded system for the first time. The GGICO station in Al Garhoud, the Noor Islamic Bank station in Al Quoz and the World Trade Centre station saw their first passengers yesterday, although the weekend turnout was small.

Officials said the stations play a pivotal role in the city by providing a nexus for commuters from all segments of society, from financial workers to construction labourers. "I live at Rigga Street and will use the Metro to come to work every day," said Sabir Shah, an Indian car sales executive who used the GGICO station for the first time yesterday. "There is no need for a car, though I work at a car showroom."

He hoped the station would alleviate parking problems in the surrounding Al Garhoud area, which contains many offices and schools. "We spend an hour looking for parking," he said. Mattar al Tayer, chairman of the board and executive director of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), said that the stations are "located at busy locations with very high population density". The authority expects a significant ridership increase just by activating the three new stations, which will bring the total to 21.

The Metro already carries more than 100,000 passengers a day and expects to hit 145,000, with eight more stations scheduled to open in coming months. "Everything was perfectly fine this morning," Peyman Younes Parham, the director of RTA's corporate marketing and communications department, said yesterday about the new stations. "Of course it is too early to comment on the traffic in these stations, but we are expecting it to be busy."

Like the GGICO station, the Noor Islamic Bank station in Al Quoz will serve a wide range of commuters, from those heading to industrial complexes and labour camps in the district to residents of Jumeirah who live on the opposite side of Sheikh Zayed Road. "This station connects the industrial area and part of Jumeirah, so it is a vital link," Mr Parham said. Umer Alam, a Bangladeshi worker living at a nearby camp, said: "The bus service here is so bad that we don't have a choice but to sit in the camp. On non-working days, we go to Bur Dubai or Deira on a company bus that leaves at a fixed time. If we have the Metro we can go often."

The RTA said trained bus drivers have been assigned to the bus routes that will feed the new Metro station. In total, 14 feeder buses have been deployed to link the Metro stations with the neighbourhoods around them, offering service at 15 to 20-minute intervals. The RTA also expects a significant portion of visitors to the World Trade Centre to use the new station there. The centre hosts conferences, conventions and other events, and is estimated to have as many as 200,000 visitors per year. The eight Red Line stations that have yet to open are: Jebel Ali, Jebel Ali Industrial, Energy, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Nakheel, Sharaf DG, First Gulf Bank and Business Bay. @Email:pmenon@thenational.ae Click here for an interactive guide to Dubai Metro.

World Trade Centre station The station exit reaches right to the doorstep of the World Trade Centre. Thousands of people visit the trade centre every month for events, conferences and programmes. The station will ease transit to and from other venues, including the International Convention and Exhibition Centre and the Airport Expo Centre. Noor Islamic Bank station Located in the densely populated Al Quoz area, which has many trading and industrial establishments. It is also the closest station to labour accommodations in Al Quoz. The station should appeal to traders, workers and residents. It is also close to Jumeirah, a beach community on the other side of Sheikh Zayed Road. GGICO station Located in the heart of Al Garhoud, the station is surrounded by schools. Closest to the station are Indian High School, Kindergarten Starters and Dubai International School. Welcare Hospital is within walking distance. This station is also expected to be handy for the large business district nearby.