Water taxis to relieve Dubai jams

A new fleet of water taxis will ferry commuters and tourists around Dubai from the middle of next year.

An abra and an RTA air-conditioned water taxi seen on the Dubai Creek from the Bur Dubai side in Dubai on July 7, 2008. Deira can be seen in the distance.
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A new fleet of water taxis will ferry commuters and tourists around Dubai from the middle of next year - bringing some much-needed relief to motorists stuck in traffic jams across the city. As part of the Roads and Traffic Authority's plans to break the gridlock on the city's roads, 20 water taxi stations and 10 new water taxis are scheduled to be up and running by the middle of next year.

Dubai Marina will have four stations with other drop-off points at the Jebel Ali Golf Resort, Habtoor Grand, Royal Meridian and Jumeirah Hilton Hotels. Improvement work to some existing stations, such as Bur Dubai and Old Deira Souk Station, will also be carried out. The modern, air-conditioned boats will be more expensive rivals to the city's traditional abras. "Twenty locations have been approved for establishing water taxi stations during the initial phase of the project, which will contribute to alleviating traffic congestion in Dubai," said Khaled Mohammed al Zahed, the acting chief executive of RTA's marine agency.

"The project will be specifically important following the completion of giant maritime projects such as the Palm Deira, Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, and The World." The taxis, which can be booked only by phone, will carry up to 11 passengers and will be available for hire for tourists trips along the creek, Mr Zahed said. "In the initial stage, 10 boats, costing Dh30 million (US$8.1m), will operate as water taxis," he said. "The project also covers Al Khor lines, the Coastal Line running along Jumeirah coast to serve tourists in the emirate, and the line linking downtown Dubai with the Palms projects and The World."

The number of passengers crossing the creek by water has increased by 10 per cent since last year. The RTA's marine agency is promoting water taxis - along with Dubai Creek's abras and water buses - as a cheap, efficient mode of transport to cut traffic. Abras carried more than 7.5 million passengers in the first three months of this year, a 10 per cent rise from the corresponding period the year before. The boats, which cost Dh1 per trip, shuttle passengers between Deira Old Souq Station and Bur Dubai Station, and Dubai Old Souk Station and Al Sabkha Station.