By Shafaat Ahmed www.khaleejtimes.com
Regular early morning users of the Dubai Metro have urged the RTA to start the service earlier than the current time of 6am and increase the frequency during the first hour of the day.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, several commuters testified that the Metro has made travelling across the city easier and faster. However, they wished the Metro started earlier and had more frequent trips in the morning as the first trip is always packed with people. They wished the same for the feeder buses.Muriel D’Sa, a radio presenter, takes the first Metro of the day at 6.16am from the Union Square Station and reaches the Noor Islamic Bank Station in Al Quoz in about 25 minutes.
However, by the time she is out of the train, which she says is packed with people, Muriel is gasping for breath and sweating badly. No, the AC of the train works alright, there are just too many people.
“There are so many people on the train that there is no space to even keep your feet, it’s so suffocating that you can’t even breathe. This happens because everybody wants to reach office in time and the next train is after 10 minutes,” says Muriel, who actually starts her journey much earlier from Sharjah.
She feels that the problem is easily solved if the trains started half an hour earlier than 6am and trains are as frequent as they are after 7am.
“They should advance the train timings and increase the frequency during the peak hours. This will help passengers evenly distribute to different trains. Right now, all those who have to reach offices at 7am or 7.30am rush for the same train which can be easily avoided,” she adds. Though Muriel doesn’t have an issue with the feeder buses —her office is just across the Noor Islamic Bank station— there are dozens of those who are dependent on it and feel it could be improved.
“I take the first Metro from Al Rigga at 6.30am and reach the First Gulf Bank (FGB) station in Al Quoz in 20 minutes. Though the Metro is jam-packed in the morning I find it the most convenient option for me. I feel Metro has helped people reach places where they couldn’t dream of going before. It is affordable and fast. But what I find irritating is the feeder service or the lack of it,” said Neesha Kapoor, who is an aspiring journalist and travels on Metro daily.
The expressive youngster suggests that the authorities should improve the feeder service, particularly around the Al Quoz area, if they wish for people’s loyalty.
“Everyday I reach the First Gulf Bank station at around 6.50 in the morning and find that either there is no feeder bus or if it is there it doesn’t start on time. There are dozens like me who are dependent on this service to reach office because there is no other way and if there are taxis we can’t afford it,” said Neesha.
Relating a recent incident she said: “Just a few days ago when I got down from the station, the feeder bus F25 was waiting at the stop and immediately I along with others got into it. We waited inside for more than 15 minutes and the bus didn’t start. When enquired we were told the bus is out of service and there was no replacement bus.” She indicated that this is not the first time this has happened.
Sri Lankan worker Fareed Sheikh also feels the feeder service could be better.
“The feeder buses come every 30 minutes, which is too long during morning hours. RTA should change it to 15 minutes at least during the first few hours of the day when people are in a hurry to reach office,” feels Fareed, who works for a mechanical equipment firm in Al Quoz.
Fareed starts on the Metro from the Financial Centre station and the first feeder bus usually leaves before he gets down at the First Gulf Bank station, which means he has to wait for another 30 minutes for the next bus, making him late for work most of the days. “To catch the first feeder bus I have to either catch the first Metro, which is not possible because it is completely filled by the time it reaches Financial Centre Station, or if I wait for the second Metro which comes after 10 minutes I miss the feeder bus and get late to work,” says Fareed, who claims there are dozens of others who face similar dilemma everyday.
An Egyptian national, who wished for anonymity, also said the feeder service is not as efficient as it was supposed to be. He said early morning commute is getting very difficult as more people are opting for Metro everyday. “The Metro is gaining more popularity everyday and RTA should expand its services accordingly. I seriously feel they should run trains every five minutes right from 6am, because this will help accommodate more people who have opted for Metro in the last few months,” said the Egyptian.
Metro’s growing popularity as the most preferred mode of transport in the city seems to be causing problems for its regular users and they feel the only way things can improve is by advancing the timings as well as improving the frequency of both the trains and the feeder buses.