x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Unofficial sites provide Metro info

Frustrated by the lack of a website with comprehensive information about the Dubai Metro, some residents have built unofficial ones to offer people details about it.

Frustrated by the lack of a website with comprehensive information about the Dubai Metro, some residents have built unofficial ones to offer people details about it. Marian Lishman, a British abstract artist who has lived in the emirate for five years, built her site, Dubai-metro.me, after a search of the Roads and Transport Authority's official site turned up little information on fares or timings.

"I was trying to find out the details, and I went to the RTA site and there wasn't much there," she said. "I realised that if I wanted the info, surely other people wanted it as well." Mrs Lishman used Google searches to scrape together information from various sources. Using her experience in web design, she quickly built the site, which offers information on ticket prices and sales locations, a map of active and inactive stations, and the routes of the network of feeder buses that will connect suburbs with Metro stations.

The RTA, despite committing Dh28 billion (US$7.6bn) to the project including Dh10 million for the My City, My Metro promotional campaign has yet to develop a stand-alone website for the Metro. The front page of the RTA.ae site has links to pages advertising retail and sponsorship opportunities associated with the project, but no links to a site for people who will use the Metro, which opens on Wednesday.

The RTA did not respond to a request for comment. Mrs Lishman said while there were text advertisements on her site, she did not expect it to be profitable. "It is a public service, and I don't see myself making money off of it," she said. "I made the site that I wanted to see, that is my real motivation." Her site competes with other unofficial sites with details about Dubai's biggest infrastructure project of the decade. Dubaimetro.eu, managed by a company based in the Seychelles, ranks higher than the official RTA page in the results of all major search engines.

A number of local newspapers have Dubai Metro pages, and a site built by Flip Media, a digital media agency based in Dubai Media City, will launch tomorrow. Mydubaimetro.com is "a non-profit initiative by Flip Media to provide residents of Dubai with a practical, usable guide to the Dubai Metro", said Yousuf Tuqan, the company's chief executive. He hopes the site will become a focal point for the community of Metro customers and plans to include features that will let users share their views.

"We're also planning to roll out additional functionalities, including carpooling features to encourage Dubai residents to connect and share rides to and from Metro stations," he said. "We're very excited by it." tgara@thenational.ae