Friday, November 2, 2012

Thousands take their free ride on Dubai Metro

Massive response to RTA’s Public Transport Day sees many use train for the first time

Dubai: People converged in droves to buses and metro as the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) celebrated the thirrd annual Public Transport Day, offering unlimited free transport to Nol card holders on Thursday.


Image Credit: Hadrian Hernandez/Gulf News

Apart from the free rides, commuters also enjoyed free Nol cards, bikes and iPads in various competitions and programmes, while medical and blood donation camps were also held at different locations.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people tried the metro for the first time and vowed it wouldn’t be their last trip.
Longtime Dubai resident Sanaullah, 42, is one of those who had not tried the metro before and it was clear he liked his new experience.
“I tried the metro today and I liked the idea. It is more convenient than using the car, particularly in busy areas of Bur Dubai and Deira. I live in Naif and work in Bur Dubai and I find parking difficult in both areas. I have decided I will use metro from now on,” said Sanaullah, who works for a shipping firm.
Another first timer was 25-year-old Magdi Jasem, who until Thursday thought public transport was for those who can’t afford private vehicles, but egged on by a friend he hoped onto a metro and simply loved it.
“I can’t believe I didn’t try the metro before, I kept thinking it’s not for me. I love my car but I think I will be using the metro more often now, it is cheaper and convenient,” said the marketing executive.
Apart from the first timers, there were also those who can’t have enough of the metro, one among those is Carolina Risma Lolo, who sold her car three years ago when the metro started and since than has been happily using themetro to travel around Dubai.
“I love using metro and I love it more when it is free, I think RTA should have more free days for regular users. I have been using it since the metro started and it has saved me from a lot of headache, since my job requires a lot of travelling. Now I use the time while travelling for myself,” said Lolo, who is a visual merchandiser with sports brand Nike.
And it is not just the middle income workers who love metro. A growing number of people from diverse backgrounds are getting into the fold.
Raynish Robinson is the owner of an electromechanical firm in Dubai with an expanding business, but that doesn’t stop him from travelling by metro.
“I own a car, but I prefer commuting by metro to office as well as to make field visits. It is cheaper and it is eco-friendly. I like the idea of contributing to the efforts of reducing carbon emissions. I encourage my employees to do the same,” said the Indian entrepreneur.
On Thursday, hundreds of VIPs and top government officials also took the metro to work, among whom were Sami Gargash, executive director of Mohammad Bin Rashid Housing Establishment and around 30 of his colleagues, top Dubai Police officials including Abdur Rahman Al Shaikh, top officials from Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department including Ahmad Al Muhairi and 72 other female staff members.
Officials from Dubai Economic Department, which had banned its staff from using cars on Thursday, also took metro to reach their offices.
Commenting on the response received to the Public Transport Day, Ahmad Al Hammadi, director of buses at RTA’s Public Transport Agency, said: “It was wonderful to see so many top officials and VIPs use metro along with common people. We are really touched by the fabulous response received today [Thursday]. I think if at least a fraction of the new users of public transport stick to it, than we will consider it a great success.”
RTA estimates around 800,000 people have used the metro, buses and waterbuses together on Thursday, with hundreds of new Nol cards sold.