Dubai Tram Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: A month after Dubai Tram introduced a new loop service, commuters say they are not able to identify between the regular service and the new service.

The new service, which operates every six minutes, offers non-stop connection between Jumeirah Beach Residence 1 (JBR), Jumeirah Beach Residence 2, Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Marina Mall.

With better frequency compared to the regular service, which operates every 12 minutes during non-peak hours, the loop service aims at making internal travel between the JBR and Dubai Marina a breeze.

However, several commuters who spoke to Gulf News said that it is not easy to distinguish between the two services.

“Even a month after the loop service was introduced, I haven’t been able to identify which trams are serving the loop and which are for regular service. There are no announcements when the tram arrives and even the attendants at the stations have no idea,” said Anna Martina, a regular commuter.

Another commuter, Maria from Russia, said she finds tram very slow and prefers walking. “I think this is one of the slowest tram services I have seen. I have used trams in other parts of the world. Though Dubai Tram is sleek and comfortable it is not very convenient. The frequency is low and the pace is also slower and to top it all traffic is also badly affected,” said Maria.

The tram operates at an average commercial speed of around 22 kilometres per hour, though it can go up to 50km/h.

Another commuter, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We were all waiting for the tram but when it actually started we are not so impressed with the service. I should say the planning hasn’t been great and now with all the left turns and U-turns blocked along the tramway, the traffic has been badly impacted and the tram doesn’t seem to be the ideal alternative.”

But not all commuters are unhappy. There are several who are taking good advantage of the service.

Englishman Keith Tarbuck doesn’t drive all. He prefers using a tram and take a connecting Dubai Metro from the Damac station for his work and back.

“It has been very useful to me so far. I use the tram every day to and from work and I find it very convenient, though they could make it a bit faster,” said Tarbuck.

But he, too, added that the loop service is not defined and every time you have to ask the attendants, who are not always aware.

The Rail Agency officials at the Roads and Transport Authority were not immediately available for comment despite repeated requests.

Dubai Tram operates from 6.30am to 1.30am, except on Fridays when the tram services start at 9am.

The regular service runs every 10 minutes during peak hours and every 12 minutes during non-peak hours, covering the 10.6 kilometre network.

More than 11,000 people take the tram on an average daily since its launch on November 12.

Expectedly, with connectivity to Dubai Metro, Dubai Marina station has proved to be most popular with a footfall of 80,000.

Dubai Tram is considered the first tram outside Europe powered entirely by on-ground electric cables extending throughout the tramway. It is also the first tram in the world that uses the technology of platform screen doors, the mechanism of which is synchronised with the opening and closing of the tram doors in order to provide additional comfort, safety and security to riders.

Dubai Tram is also the first in the world to have all 11 stations air-conditioned.

The 10.6 kilometre network covers Al Sufouh, Knowledge Village, Dubai Media City as well as Dubai Marina and JBR. The network connects with Palm Jumeirah’s Monorail at Palm Jumeirah station as well as linking with Dubai Metro at Dubai Marina and JLT stations.

The Palm Jumeirah station also works as a hub with a parking lot that can accommodate 100 vehicles and offers connectivity with buses.

As many as six bus routes connect various stations of the tram, offering onward journeys to other areas not served by the Metro.

Routes 8, 83, 84, 85, 88, X28 and F31 serve various locations along the tram network and operate at a headway of 10 to 20 minutes.

The fare on the regular tram service as well on the loop remain Dh3 for a Silver class, irrespective of the distance travelled, while on Gold class the cost doubles. Commuters will need to have a minimum of Dh7.5 as Nol balance to take a ride on the tram.