Uncertainty Over Dubai's New Metro System

With barely a third of its metro stations in operation, there is some doubt over whether Dubai's metro will be a success.

"It is not entirely clear who will be using the mass transit system. With long distances between stations and serving, at the moment, mainly shopping malls and financial centers, the Metro may fail to attract the demographic most in need of the transportation: the working poor, which consists mostly of construction and domestic workers."

Full Story: Dubai: Opulent metro little more than a joy ride



No Surprise if it limps along.

In the U.S., we have the same problem. Many planners are trying to provide comfortable rail for the middle class instead of focusing on leveling the playing field that is tilted by MASSIVE auto-and-sprawl subsidies.
First, make public transit free and allow the market to re-balance somewhat. As more and more people ride the buses and move to town, rail planning will be more organic and not an impostion that is forced onto an unnatural auto system.

Dubai's opulent Metro...

This superficial little piece of journalism is loaded with cliches, half-truths and, worse, reveals a ignorance of Dubai and its social system… does the American media have some sort of complex about Dubai…?

For starters, with only ten stations open, isn’t it a bit premature to judge success of the Dubai Metro…? It’s obviously still a skeleton service. Another dozen stations are nearing completion and are, in fact, scheduled to open during the next few weeks. Two stations (Al-Manara and Al Quoz) will serve Al Quoz, Dubai’s largest industrial area, where there are tens of thousands of labour accommodations. But then, this writer, like all the other fly-in-for-a-weekend media types, probably doesn’t even know where Al-Quoz is.

Incidentally, labourers, factory workers, and low-income service workers don’t own cars, so providing them with Metro service (a desirable goal), won’t result in fewer cars on the road. Most now ride buses provided by their respective employers. Providing Metro service to the malls and major white-collar employment centres will get cars off the road. The writer is conflating an environmental issue (too many cars) with a social one (cheap transport for low income workers).

This writer goes on to mention (somewhat disparagingly)… “…a luxury section with leather seats at twice the cost.” What is his point...? What this correspondent fails to say is that the basic fare is only 1.8 Dirhams (US 49 cents) and the Gold (first) Class fare is 3.8 Dirhams ($1.02); both these fares cheap by any standard. The Gold Class, incidentally, is less about money than providing an optional separate space for ladies and families in a society which adheres to a different set of standards and traditions than those perhaps espoused by the Christian Science Monitor. Regrettably, Americans still all too often seem to cast their judgmental eyes upon others through the prism of their own values.

BTW… what’s wrong with people using the Metro to get to shopping malls…? The malls are huge traffic generators in Dubai, and I for one, am happy to ride the Metro and ditch the car to get to Deira City Center (horrible, jammed-up parking garage) or Mall of the Emirates (a long trek down traffic-clogged Sheikh Zayed Road). Anyone who gets on/off at Mall of the Emirates can see that hundreds of shoppers are already using the Metro who otherwise would come by car. Also, lots of riders get on and off at Dubai Financial Centre, and they’re not camera-toting tourists.


all well and good, but the

all well and good, but the fact that the fare is 49 cents is meaningless since dubai has a highly skewed per capita income. cheap to you and me for sure, but are we really to believe the official line that the "average" daily wage is over US$200? i understand that the city has a reputation for a high cost of living, but i think you'd be hard-pressed to find an immigrant factory worker or hotel bellboy earning that kind of wage in equally-expensive london or moscow.

Dubai Metro fare cheap compared to other cities...

The Dubai Metro fare is still cheap compared to most cities in the world, skewed-income distribution or not. Aside from employer-provided bus transport to their respective workplaces, the alternative for low-income workers in Dubai would be shared taxis, still far more expensive than a 2-Dirham Metro fare. Dubai also has a very modern, extensive, heavily-used bus system, and the flat fare is one Dirham (about US 28 cents). Compared to any American city, I believe that RTA (which runs Dubai Metro and the buses) has made greater effort to set bus and Metro fares as low as practical, short of making them free. Free transit is as much an ideological question as an economic one, and no city in the world has made that giant leap, so why pick on Dubai…?

As for the high cost of living which you cite (what is the source of your info...?), only housing is relatively expensive; food, clothing, utilities, and public transport are all quite cheap in Dubai (for example, my combined water/electric bill is typically about US $40 a month, and that’s with my A/C running 24/7). Rents are high, but not out of line with other large cities around the world… we’re not even in the same league as London, Moscow, or New York. Moreover, labourers and other low-income workers usually live in employer-provided housing, so don’t deal with the expensive private rental market (some labour accommodations are wretched and I don’t defend the system which allows for it, but that’s a whole other discussion… and not unique to Dubai).

As for the rest of what you say, you seem to be throwing a lot of things together in one long sentence, so don't really understand the point(s) you're trying to make.


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