I can tell you this because I’ve been watching the trams tootling up and down on test runs in recent months. I’ve also lost hours of my life sitting in traffic jams outside Media City, stuck in bottlenecks caused by the dusty construction work.
My commute that used to take 25 minutes took a frustrating hour-and-a-half yesterday, and wasn’t helped by Mr Queue Jumper. You all know him. You’ve paid attention to the construction signs and got in the correct lane. Mr Important has ignored them for miles, and now wants to be let in. (Not going to happen).
Anyway, I’m in quite a good position to be able to tell you that the black-and-white trams look modern and sleek (with a gold suite, as well as silver and women-and-children classes); and along the route there are 17 high-tech stations with platform screen doors – a world first for a tramway.
Trams might be commonplace in Europe, where they trundle across numerous cities, but here in the Middle East it’s the first of its kind. The ground-based electricity supply should mean the trams don’t actually trundle, but move smoothly along the track without wobble or noise, connecting Dubai Marina, Media City, Internet City, Knowledge Village and a number of luxury hotels.
Whilst sitting in my vehicle banging my head against the steering wheel as cars pile up trying to get round the roadworks, I’ve also noticed there’s a whole new set of traffic signs relating to the tram – because, in another (scary!) first for the region, the carriages will share road space with cars.
Yes, that’s right. With Mr White Van Man – who last drove a rickshaw and now finds himself licensed and working in Dubai, at the helm of a van with strips of yellow-and-black caution tape on the back and his own mobile number on the ‘Am I driving safe?’ bumper sticker – and with other equally menacing road users.
Last-minute extra safety measures are apparently being implemented to prevent collisions with cars and pedestrians – including guards to stop drivers and people from crossing the tramline at unauthorised places. Heavy fines (up to AED30,000) are also being introduced to discourage accidents.
But, let’s just say that, with so many levels of stupidity behind the wheel in Dubai – from Mr Flasher to Mr Let’s Play Chicken to Mr I’ll Just Ram Your Behind Because I’m on the Phone (who I had the pleasure of coming across this week) ¬– I think my route to work is about to get a whole lot more interesting.