Dubai started partial operations of the first metro system in the GCC. Only part of one of the two-line, 70 km long metro is now in operation, while other sections are still under construction.
Construction costs have soared to 28 billion dirhams ($7.62 billion) from the 15.5 billion dirhams originally estimated, according to the emirate's Road & Transport Authority.
The RTA has said it expects the metro will generate US $4.6 billion over the next 10 years. To raise cash, it has offered naming rights for 23 of the planned 47 stations. So far, less than $500 million has been raised from the sale.
Analysis and forecast: decreasing risk
Dubai has been developed in such a way that it has a strong car culture. Rapid development has meant that the city suffered chronic traffic problems, that has only improved during the downturn, partly as a result of many expatriates leaving.
At this time, before the whole network is in operation, it is expected that the metro will have a limited impact. Dubai authorities may resort to means such as imposing higher charges for car users to force commuters to use the metro. Part of this includes the introduction of further Salik, or congestion charge gates as well as charging high charges for car parking and registration.
Despite some reservations on the viability of a metro in a city like Dubai and the fact that its success will partially come as a result of increased government charges on motorists, its creation will provide a boost to the image of Dubai, as the home of the world’s most advanced metro system. Such an image boost is badly needed by Dubai.
The long-term benefits will take a long time to be realized and have to be part of a combined traffic strategy that addresses Dubai’s severe transport problems.