Transport is vital in our daily lives because it facilitates the movement of people, goods and animals from one place to another. The usage of transport is inevitable because numerous transactions take place in different locations every day and, thus, people and goods need to move through various systems depending on cost, capability and route. The options of transportation include buses, trains, motorbikes, subways, bicycles, electric cars, airplanes and many others. This paper seeks to explore subways system in the UAE.
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A subway is an underground rapid transit rail system used to transport large number of passengers within urban and suburban areas (“Subway,” 2015). The Metro system, which contains subways and overhead railways, originated in Britain. The first underground metro in the world is the London Underground, which has 45% of its system underground (Attwooll, 2015). Other notable metro systems include; ,the longest in the world Shanghai metro in China, the busiest in the world Beijing subway and the New York City subway which has the biggest number of stations in the world. Subways are interesting thanks to underground passage that provides a unique appearance. The subways provide a solution to the problem of traffic congestion in urban areas that makes the research about metro system interesting and worthwhile to carry out. Moreover, the subways decrease the travelling distances as they evade the roads on the surface that twist around buildings and have numerous busy crossroads in the dense cities.
Recently Dubai City has emerged as an economic hub and a high tourist destination that increased its population. The population growth coupled with growing traffic congestion required a system that could alleviate the situation. The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority made a proposition to put in place a metro system. At the initial point, the project of subway contained two lines, the Red and the Green line. Many companies expressed interest in implementing the metro system project. Three companies were finally selected for the project based on their specialized skills. An engineering firm Atkins specialized in design and management of all civil works while an architecture firm Aedas designed the system's stations, depots, and operational centers. Construction of the Metro began in September 2005 and was executed by Al Ghurair Investment group. The initial operation of the Red line started on the 9th of September in 2009. Extension work progressed, and the lines opened in 2010 and 2013 (Ahmed, 2009).
The construction of the green line started in 2006, and it opened on the 9th of September in 2011containing 18 stations; two more stations were added in 2014 (Libo-on, 2014). With a total length of lines equal to 74.6 kilometers, the metro runs from Etisalat to Creek and Rashidiya to Jebel with 13 kilometers built underground. All the trains and stations have air conditioning in order to make the operation of subways possible. A total of 110,000 people used it in the first two days of operations that signals about the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the metro rail. The number of passengers, who use the metro has surged over the years. In the first half of 2015, Dubai Roads and Transport Authority announced that 88,252,032 passengers have used the metro. The number of subway ride per passenger is expected to grow with the implementation of subsidized fares. The growth of the daily usage of the metro made the authority put in place expansion plans in order to serve more passengers (“Dubai metro expansion plans,” 2014). In April 2015, an addition of 15 kilometers to the metro system was announced that will extend the Red line from Ibn Battuta to the Expo 2020 (The National staff, 2015). Many people enjoy the expansion of the metro. The expansion of metro is also advantageous to students and the seniors because it offers discounted services to these groups of society. Moreover, people travelling with children below 5years and people with disability enjoy free travelling. All the stations have tactile guidance path and spaces for wheelchairs in order to help visually impaired people. However, passengers have expressed dissatisfaction with the metro trains by describing them as inconvenient and overcrowded. Most passengers complain that they feel inconvenient on Fridays because the metro does not operate in the morning. Moreover, overcrowded trains of the Red line during the peak hours have been a hot issue over the past years.
Dubai Metro is the only operational railway network in the UAE. However, it has several problems such as the service delay, the morning operations on Fridays, a long waiting time for train to come and insufficient amount of feeder bus stations. The metro needs to start Friday operations early in the morning in order to eliminate passenger dissatisfaction. Additionally, the metro does not offer 24-hour service, and it do not provide free Wi-Fi at stations like the subway in New York do (“How to Ride the Subway,” n.d.). The authority needs to consider increasing the number of feeder bus stations and reduction in passenger waiting time in order to increase efficiency. Actually, these systems complement each other. The movement of passengers will be more efficient and comfortable with an efficient metro system coupled with reliable feeder stations. Such an improvement in metro system will enable passengers to schedule their journeys and to include metro ride in their plans with no fear to lose working and learning hours. As more and more people are coming to Dubai and its surroundings, the post-modern transport systems is needed to serve the passengers in a high quality way during their daily movements. The renovation of metro system will boost the profitability of the city and the economy of UAE at large. Subways will turn Dubai City around to a high extent as it happened in other big cities such as Beijing and New York City. Thus, this research paper explores the potential of subway system in UAE and the extent at which the government is committed to providing efficient and cost-effective transportation system to its citizens.