A toast to public transport


A toast to public transport

DUBAI — Dubai public transport users are so pleased with the city’s transport system they have just one complaint — they want more of it.

By Patrick Michael & Amanda Fisher

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Published: Thu 1 Nov 2012, 12:24 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Apr 2015, 1:28 PM

As Filipino national Mark Babas, 23, geared up for today’s third annual Public Transport Day, he had plenty of praise to heap on the modern system.

“It’s cheap and you don’t have to worry about the pollution, the buses don’t have that diesel, the fare is good (but) I do believe they have to expand their bus stops more.”

 Metro commuters Ridhika Pandre and Mark Babas (below) at the Noor Islamic Bank station on Wednesday. — KT photos by Shihab

Babas, a restaurant worker, who had been using Dubai’s public transport since he moved to the city four years ago, said the system had been steadily improving, with the introduction of Nol cards — which operate on buses, the metro and water buses — the best innovation.

He said he used both the bus and metro system everyday to get from his home in Al Quoz, to work in Jumeirah Beach Residence.

Civil engineer Rithika Pandre said she was also a convert to the public transport system, which was expected to see 739,000 commuters today, but wanted to see the metro system expanded.

The Indian national said she used the metro daily, busing from her home in International City to work in Al Quoz, as well as to go shopping in traffic-congested Karama and Bur Dubai.

“It is very convenient actually...it’s very, very clean and very systematic.”

Pandre, 24, had been in Dubai for a year, but using the public transport system for nine months.

“You save time by coming on the metro (and) it’s eco-friendly also, if many people use the metros.”

She preferred the metro which had services once every four minutes in peak times, rather than bus, she said.

“I’m planning to learn to drive, but it’s OK if I don’t because of the metro.”

Filipino Christine Babas also had a gripe with the bus services, and said while she happily used the metro when she needed, she avoided taking the bus at all costs.

“I don’t use the bus because I’m fed up of waiting...most of the time you have to wait 20 or 30 minutes.”

But Public Transport Day is set to make believers even out of the car generation. Nisreen Sarryeh said while she owned a car that she regularly used, she would go by public transport today. “This day serves as a good reminder that there are several modes of transportation in Dubai that can be environmentally friendly and help reduce traffic congestion... taking the metro can help you avoid irritable morning drivers, provide an opportunity for down time to read or write, and a chance to take a walk and get your blood flowing.”

Briton Steve Park-Upton has seen Dubai’s public transport system grow through the ages, having lived car-free in the city for seven years.

“I started commuting on the Red Line from day one ...when it first opened I not only had a seat to myself, I had a whole row of seats. Now it’s standing room all the way in rush hour, even in the Gold carriages.”

Despite having a UAE driver’s licence almost from the moment he arrived, he said it was great not worrying about parking, traffic, fines and bad driving — complaints he heard regularly from his friends.     


But it aint for everyone... 

As the number of public transport users continues to climb, with more than 207 million passengers in the first half of this year alone, not everyone is on board the runaway train.

Komal Bhandarkar, a public relations veteran, is one who won’t be getting in to the spirit of Public Transport Day, though she has a better reason than most.

“I will not be using the UAE public transport system tomorrow, primarily because I am pregnant...I’m now in my third trimester and a crowded metro or bus is probably not the best way for me to travel.”

She said while she liked the concept of Public Transport Day, she did not believe it would have any real benefit for the environment without following up with more ongoing education and awareness campaigns on the environmental damage cars have.

And Jose de Souza said though he applauded the concept, he would do so from his car seat today as the public transport system did not cover the distance he needed to traverse between work and home.

“Even if I were to use the metro, finding taxis willing to cover the distance from the station to my home will be a challenge.”

De Souza said he had only just invested in a car a year ago, after three years travelling by public transport.



  • All Nol cardholders get free travel today
  • Free medical checks at Dubai Healthcare City and Airport Terminal 3 metro stops
  • The first 100 people to donate blood at the Al Ghubaiba bus station will receive silver Nol cards
  • A competition to find one of 10 keys located in 10 metro stations will be hold, with winners getting their hands on a new bike
  • The three top entries of a photo competition, titled “Best Image of a Public Transport Means”, will take home an iPad.




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