A multi-cultural mix of passengers aboard the Dubai Metro. The Metro has won dans in just about every social class as opposed to other modes of transport, say officials. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: More space is being provided for female commuters of Dubai Metro with the rising demand and changing pattern of ridership, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced.

With the current women-only compartment being insufficient, RTA has moved to add half a cabin for women during peak hours. The total number of cars on the Metro is five, one of which is divided into a Gold compartment and a female compartment. The expansion will limit the general commuters to three and a half cabins.

“We do regular studies and we have a system of receiving complaints and feedback. We received several requests from female commuters for expanding the women only space on the Metro,” Ramadan Abdullah, Director of Metro operations at RTA’s Rail Agency, said.

Following the requests from commuters, he added, RTA carried out a survey to find out whether there is actually a need for expansion.

“We found out that during peak hours the women-only cabins are more congested when compared to the mixed cabins so we took the decision to expand the space for women during peak hours,” he explained.

The survey also found out that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of women using the Metro over the last couple of years.

“As more women and children are using the Metro now, we want to make sure the Metro trip is smoother and more comfortable for them, especially as this segment of Metro users need more privacy and security,” he added.

The extension service will be active from September 1 during peak hours from 7am to 9am and from 5pm to 8pm from Sunday to Thursday.

Abdullah said that the additional space would not only offer greater comfort to women but also easy movement of strollers and bags.

The additional spaces are clearly marked on all the trains and Metro security officers will be on hand to make sure there is no violation.

“I think this is an excellent move by RTA. This has been due for long as the ridership on the Metro has increased and during peak hours the female compartments are generally packed and more space would surely help,” said Nafia Rahman, a regular commuter.

However, expanding the women-only compartment on the Metro means taking away space from the general compartment, which is also cramped during peak hours.

“To me it doesn’t make sense. I understand the need for privacy and security of women but reducing the space from the general compartment will cause more problems for general commuters, who are cramped for space during peak hours,” said Dinesh Gor, who takes peak hour trains twice daily.

Currently, Dubai Metro transports around 400,000 commuters on both Red and Green lines daily. Catering to the growing demand, RTA has reduced the peak hour train frequency on the Red line to three minutes.

“Addressing the commuters’ concern we have reduced the peak hour train frequency to every three minutes. We have added more trains, with 46 trains running on the Red line alone during peak hours. This will ensure commuters spend less time waiting while also ensuring that trains are less cramped,” stated Abdullah.

The five-cabin Dubai Metro can accommodate around 650 passengers, with each cabin having a capacity of 130 passengers. Following the expansion the female compartment on each train will accommodate around 130 passengers, which is double the earlier number.