x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Passenger shortfall may keep metro stations shut

Some stations on Dubai Metro's Red Line may not be open when trains start running in September because of a shortage of passengers.

Under construction metro station near the Trade Center on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai in Oct 2008.
Under construction metro station near the Trade Center on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai in Oct 2008.

DUBAI // Some stations on Dubai Metro's Red Line may not be open when trains start running in September because of a shortage of passengers. Mattar al Tayer, the executive director of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), said yesterday that some stations might remain closed because delays in nearby residential developments meant there would not be enough passengers. "Maybe some of the stations may not open because of the ridership," he said, adding that all 29 stations on the Red Line would be structurally ready on time. He would not say which stations could remain closed.

The 52km Red Line, which stretches the length of Sheikh Zayed Road between Al Rashidiya and Jebel Ali, is on schedule and due to take its first passengers on Sept 9. Until yesterday, the RTA had maintained that all the stations would open. Mr al Tayer said the problem was that some property developments on the other side of Sheikh Zayed Road were behind schedule. "We must make sure all the buildings on the other side of the road are ready. There is no point opening a station if the buildings are not ready," he said.

The RTA would incur additional expense if staff had to be placed at stations with no passengers, he said. If there were a stop with no passengers, the RTA would not open the station. Mr al Tayer spoke at a press conference to announce a Dh30 million (US$8.2m) advertising deal between the metro and Arab Media Group. A full evaluation would be carried out to ascertain which, if any, of stations would stay closed, he said. "We will not be able to evaluate until two to three months before it opens. It is not because of us, it'll be because of the developers building the developments."

He added that there would be a large-scale evaluation on the levels of traffic in Dubai five months after the Red Line opened. This would study the impact of the metro, new roads and bus routes on congestion and assess the need for more Salik toll gates. "Currently, only six per cent use public transport and we want it to be 30 per cent. The number we want using the bus is 13 per cent while 17 per cent will use the metro," he said.

Recently, it was announced that 15 of the 29 stations on the Red Line have been named after private companies and brands in sponsorship deals worth Dh1.8 billion. Dubai's eagerly awaited Dh15.5 billion driverless metro project is on schedule for its opening. It has already reached its targets, including the completion of the Red Line's viaduct three days ahead of schedule. The 52km Red Line viaduct is expected to carry an estimated 27,000 passengers per hour in each direction on 42 trains, stopping at Burj Dubai, Internet City and Jebel Ali among other stations.

Once complete, the 75km Dubai Metro's two lines will become the largest light railway system to be built in one phase. Work started on the 22km Green Line, which will link Al Qusais to Dubai Healthcare City, in 2006 and is due for completion in March 2010. eharnan@thenational.ae