Dubai: From fireworks to blisters to cold — this was the New Year for hundreds of people who walked home after watching the fireworks display at the Burj Khalifa yesterday.
Despite the extended service of the Dubai Metro and the deployment of additional feeder buses in the area, revellers by the hundreds still got stranded near Dubai Mall yesterday. There was chaos on Shaikh Zayed Road as people walked across it. Some even walked along the flyovers to hunt for taxis.
This year, Dubai Metro operated until 5.30am yesterday. Its stations were packed with huge volumes of commuters. At the Dubai Mall station, there were heated exchanges between the guards and the commuters who had babies and children in tow at the entrance at the Financial Centre side of the station.
Speaking to Gulf News, Morteza Masum Ali, an Indian who came with his whole family including five babies, said they were directed by security to head for the Dubai Metro. But no one told them that people would only be allowed entry from the other side.
"The guard said we should go back to Dubai Mall and come back from that side and fall in line. We will have to walk another two or maybe five kilometres [to the other exit]," he said after having stood there for 30 minutes.
Some parents with babies, however, were allowed entry which enraged the other commuters.
"I have a child here with me and my wife and the kids are on the other side. I have been waiting here for almost one hour now," an Arabic speaking man, who refused to be identified, said.
Sitting on the pavement
Gulf News spotted many families sitting on the pavement along Shaikh Zayed Road. One of them was the Naidoo family who were visiting from South Africa.
When contacted by Gulf News, Ramadan Abdullah, director of the Rail Operation Department at the RTA said: "From 5pm Saturday onwards, we had people working continuously to make sure that everyone can be served. There were some congestion in some areas, but the Metro operated as fast as it could. Of course, they could not leave all at the same time,"
According to the Roads and Transport Authority, the total number of commuters who used the Metro for the New Year was 416,673. The usual ridership is pegged between 260,000-300,000 for the Red Line alone.
"In reality, we ran the Metro yesterday at its highest capacity ever at a 2.5 minute headway to move people faster," he added.