Yesterday was the official launch of Dubai Tram, but today was the first day the tram was open to the public. The moment did not go by unnoticed, as many commuters gathered to be part of that very first public ride.
At 6.30am, the tram took off in Al Sufouh.
A little later, it would pass by areas like Dubai Knowledge Village, Dubai Media City, Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR).
Emirates 24|7 hopped in at JBR, where the tram is expected to gain most of its popularity.
Although dawn had only just set in, it was not too early for the handful of residents gathered at the station at 6.30am. Even as the first tram only arrived at 7.10am, it could not spoil the fun for most of them.
“I have come here to be the first on Dubai Tram,” said Yemeni Muna Al Areqi. She does not live near the tram, nor does the tram pass by her destination for the day. She came all the way from Al Qusais to be part of the experience.
“I tried to be first on Dubai Metro too, but then I missed the first train. Now I am here on time, and I will be on the first ride. I will get off at Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) and take the Metro to Jebel Ali, where I work.
Having woken up at 4.30am, it was a bit of a short night, but it is all worth it, she believes.
“This is the first tram of its kind outside Europe. That is something special. I wanted to experience it.”
Unlike Muna, the tram came as a blessing for Karan Kanhai, who lives just across the tram station. Normally, he would take a taxi to get to his office in JLT, but the tram might be the perfect alternative.
“I am trying it out today, but if it works for me it could mean tremendous saving of money and time. It sometimes takes me 30 minutes to hail a cab in the morning. Now the tram leads me directly to office,” said the Dutch resident.
The same applies to the Emirati family of Abu Rashid, who lives in JBR. While today is a fun ride for the father and his two children Shahd (14) and Rashid (10), it might just become the perfect mode of transport for all.
“I think I will take the tram when I go to Marina Mall, or maybe to school by connecting to the Metro,” says the excited Shahd.
“I think it will mostly be of use to travel in the area, as it is really easy to get around in JBR and Dubai Marina by tram,” adds the father, who expects to travel to his office in JLT by tram.
As the tram crosses the stations, it gets more crowded. Many of the seats are taken, and passengers enthusiastically snap pictures as the ride continues.
Vem Raghavan hopped on in Al Sufouh to be the first passenger on board. “I was on the first Metro ride, and now on the first tram ride. It is a special event of which I wanted to be part,” says resident who came all the way from Bur Dubai this morning.
“I do not live in this area, but I do come here often. I think it is great that there is a tram now, because it was always a hassle to find parking here. I will not come here by car any longer, as I can take the tram when I go for a night out in Marina or JBR.”
Also Nasar Mustafa is on the ride for to gasp the moment, having boarded at Mina al Siyahi. But he expects to become a regular commuter, as he lives in Dubai Marina. “It is not easy to get around here, you always depend on feeder buses that connect to the Metro. With the tram access to the area becomes much easier,” he said.
Amidst the enthusiasm there are concerns too. “I am worried about accidents,” said Karan. “The public is not used to the tram in traffic here, and an accident can easily happen. It will have to be seen how the traffic responds to the tram on the road.”
Vem agrees. “It might be a good idea to reduce the speed limit on the road because the tram passes by at quite a high speed. This is a potential danger,” he said, adding that the speed might also cause passengers to fall, because there are no handrails available.
For Touraj Darbandi, a UK resident in JBR, it is all about punctuality. “The tram would be an ideal mode of transportation, if it comes on time. I am doing a test ride today to see how it works. I work in JLT, and have to walk a bit from the station but that is OK. If it comes on time I would like to travel by tram, especially as long as the weather is OK.”
The Emirati family looks happy and satisfied when getting off at Dubai Marina station. “It is a very nice ride, and I expected nothing less from Dubai. When Dubai does something, it is always the best,” said Abu Rashid.