DUBAI // Some drove or took a cab across town, while others simply walked from their flats to board the first Dubai Tram on Wednesday.
The inaugural journey would make them late for work and school, but that did not stop businessmen, students and families from hopping aboard.
For Emirati siblings Shahd, 14, and Rashid, 10, it was a day to remember.
“We thought it would be a normal day but then my dad woke us early and said, ‘let’s ride the first tram’,” she said.
“Today it’s fine being late to school – my teacher will understand because we are all excited about the tram.”
Abu Rashid, who runs a trading business, ushered the children into Jumeirah Beach Residence station before the first tram pulled up.
“As an Emirati it is a proud moment for me. Also, it will be convenient for my travelling needs,” he said.
For bank worker Mona Al Areqi, it was a chance to make up for just missing the first Dubai Metro ride.
“It’s a big event for me,” said Ms Al Areqi, who woke at 4.30am to catch a taxi to JBR station from Al Qusais.
“I have waited a long time for this. My family is asleep at home. But I always like to be the first to experience things,” the Yemeni said. “This is the first tram outside Europe to run on electricity on the road. Exciting, no?”
Grandparents boarded with toddlers in prams and parents carried babies. Commuters posed for pictures and recorded on video as they waited at 11 stations along the 10.6-kilometre route.
Glitches with the trams’ synchronised doors meant several failed to halt at stations including Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Dubai Marina, or needed help from supervisors.
In some cases journeys were suspended after a couple of stations, and commuters were asked to board the next tram. Trams stopped at some stations, leading drivers to apologise for the delay.
“This will happen for the first few days. I’m not complaining because they will need to fine-tune it,” said Miguel Rogel, who works with an offshore oil company.
“This is a big investment but good for tourists and people like us who live near the Marina, because we don’t need to walk or take a cab anymore.”
The tram will replace a taxi for schoolchildren such as Wing Chan, 13, and accountant Roshan Moraes, who will use it daily.
“This will save so much time because otherwise you wait for a taxi, then argue with people who also want the same cab, then get stuck in traffic,” said Mr Moraes, who will commute from JLT to Palm Jumeirah station.
“This is the best thing to happen.”
Parking problems and congestion at JBR and the Marina had forced many to stay away from the area, but they came back in droves yesterday.
“This is perfect because there are no steps, unlike other places, that are not buggy friendly,” said Kirsty Radley, who was pushing a double pram holding her 11-month-old twins.
“This is wide with enough space for buggies. We saw the fireworks at the launch, we’ve been walking near the station for weeks and waving to the drivers, so we’re excited to finally be on it.”
Back at JBR, Abu Rashid said he would take the tram instead of driving to Jumeirah Lakes Towers Metro station and travel on to World Trade Centre for work.
“The tram will make life easier. Some people don’t understand why there are so many new plans and projects, it is human nature to wonder. But the Government studies our needs to make us happy,” he said.