Monday, November 16, 2009

Finally....My Metro Review!

So, it finally happened: I rode the Dubai Metro!!!!! Yes, two months after it opened I got to see what all the fuss was about (well, what all my fuss was about anyway!) Why so long? Well here’s the thing – not all of the metro stations are open yet and they’re not massively convenient to my home or workplace. If I was going t make a trip I’d have to get a taxi to the nearest station and again at the other end. So I haven’t got round to it.

Yesterday the scene on leaving the airshow was nothing short of carnage. They’d clearly tried to sort some shuttle buses, but as they were all gridlocked outside, with no clear signage, it was going to be a complete gamble as to a) whether you would actually move in the next 24 hours b) your destination would be anywhere near where you were trying to get to.

The taxi queue resembled a refugee camp with frazzled suits – it was literally about 100 metres long. So that was quickly ruled out as an option.

So I and an intrepid colleague decided that the only option left was…the metro. This being Dubai the nearest station was a good 15 minute walk away, and involved walking on a 4 lane highway (we laugh in the face of pavements/sidewalks here!) grass verges (with sprinklers on – not a treat!) sandy trenches and gravel. It really was an adventure – and that was before we’d even arrived at the station.

So what’s it like? Here are my general observations:

Overall – it’s pretty sparkly. And as the Manchester metro is my last frame of reference it does look super-clean, super-slick. But then it is brand-spanking new.
The stations look a bit like airports – busy, bustling, well-lit, with coffee shops and cafes. Nice.
Why the need for the muzak in the carriages? It’s bad enough having to endure this in lifts/when on hold etc – no need in the metro, IMO.
It was packed! And not just with fellow airshow escapees, although there were a fair few of those. Joe Public has really embraced the metro, it seems.
It’s cheap – 90p for a 20 minute journey. I’m sure the equivalent in Manchester (Victoria to Bury) would be triple or quadruple that….
People are still excited to use it, as demonstrated by the fact that I wasn’t the only one taking photos of the journey!

Some people who clearly use the metro regularly have embraced the whole commuter attitude/stance – rushing to get off the train, leaning forward and exiting at high-speed. I’m sure if I had to use it every day I’d be the same but for me it was welcome respite from the grid-locked roads below (the Dubai metro is elevated above the highways) and just an overall interesting experience.

Oh and as I had hoped: you can neb right into people’s apartments. Brilliant. Not sure when I’ll be using it next, but for now, thanks metro!

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