Taxi drivers unsure if Dubai Metro Green Line is boom or bust


By Essam Al Ghalib

DUBAI // The opening of the Metro Green Line this week is a boon for passengers – but it has left taxi drivers undecided on whether it will harm or help their daily incomes.

Some cabbies said their intake of fares dropped by as much as 25 per cent after the Red Line opened two years ago.

So with another 16 stations due to open on September 10 and two more to follow, they say they will focus on parts of the city that neither of the Metro lines cover.

“When the Metro opened two years ago it was a big problem for us,” said Magendra Csialaya, 32, from Nepal, who has been driving taxis in Dubai for five years. “Instead of making an average of Dh400 a day, I was struggling to make Dh300.

“The Red Line was running along the length of Sheikh Zayed, so for people who wanted to save money instead of taking a taxi from one end of Dubai to the other, they would take the Metro.”

However, Mr Csialaya hopes that with the Green Line serving the more congested parts of the city, he will be able to spend more time driving rather than stuck in traffic.

“Maybe the Green Line will hurt us – but maybe it will help us,” he said. “It depends on how many people use it. It will be good if there will be less traffic.

“If there are less cars on the road then maybe I will be able to get from one place to another more quickly and will be able to carry more people. We will see.”

Keion Williams, a 29-year-old from Jamaica who began driving taxis two months ago, said the opening of the new line could lead to an increase in business.

“Everyone has to take taxis sometime,” he said. “We might begin seeing people taking taxis more but travelling shorter distances, to get to a bus stop or Metro station.

“People who cannot afford to pay Dh70 for a long taxi ride and have no Metro or bus station near them, may have stayed at home.

“Now maybe they will come out and use all three public transport methods, including the taxi.”

For some passengers, the 456 new buses feeding 39 routes around the Green Line are a greater cause for celebration than the Metro.

“Sometimes I have to wait for 40 minutes for a bus to come to take me to Deira,” said Mayda Geloan, 32, a saleswoman from the Philippines who lives in Al Khawaneej.

“I hope the Green Line’s new buses will cut my waiting time.

“Today I had to wait 35 minutes for the bus to come so I took a taxi to work. If buses came more often then I would never take taxis.”