DUBAI // Public transport and traffic experts are monitoring the Dubai Tram network to find ways to ease the flow of vehicles around Dubai Marina amid complaints of rush-hour and weekend gridlock.
The system was launched in November, bringing to an end years of construction and delays on roads around the heavily populated neighbourhood, but has attracted praise and criticism from commuters and residents.
Now Roads and Transport Authority chiefs are looking at how the light rail network operates as well as road signals times and traffic schedules.
“International consultants are currently overlooking the signal timings and operations to improve traffic circulation in the Marina,” said Maitha bin Adai, the chief executive of the RTA’s traffic and roads agency.
“Per our strategic objectives in RTA, the decision was made to close the U-turns and left-turns to increase tram safety.”
Drivers criticised the traffic regulations in place since December that blocked turns at five junctions where vehicular traffic runs in the same direction as the tram.
Other residents said that while the wait at signals had increased, the traffic is better organised.
The RTA said the traffic issue was being looked at, but no specific date was given for when the changes, if any, would be implemented or if restrictions would be eased.
That news was welcomed by motorists who said that their commute during peak hours had increased by up to an hour.
“The planners should come here and check the traffic in the evenings and on weekends when nothing moves,” said Azhar Sando, a resident of Jumeirah Beach Residence, who has never used the tram.
“I just see it as an inconvenience because it’s faster for me to walk than take the tram.”
One of the main choke points residents highlighted is near Marina Towers where two trams often cross paths. The delays occur since the tram has priority and traffic halts as one tram heads to Al Sufouh and the other moves to the Marina.
In such cases, motorists wait for more than four minutes at traffic lights since their lane may be the last to open up.
“Before the tram, I knew it would take me 15 minutes to reach home once I entered the Marina area,” said Jamila Yusuf, a Marina resident who works in Jebel Ali.
“Now ... it can take 15 minutes or half an hour.”
The RTA said blocking left and U-turns was in compliance with safety procedures and security in zones where traffic and the tram route overlap.
There were two accidents involving the tram during an October trial run when a motorist jumped a red light and rammed into a tram and in December when another vehicle crossed a red light. There were no injuries in both accidents.
One group of commuters say tailbacks have eased.
“I stop at traffic lights for longer but my travel time has not increased because traffic moves once you hit a green light. Before the tram, you could get stuck for no reason,” said Ray Gonzales, who works in Dubai Marina Mall.
“Peak hour evening traffic is bad, but you get that congestion anywhere in Dubai.”
While some residents suggested commuters ditch their cars, walk or take the tram if headed to restaurants in the Marina, others blamed the slow parade of fast cars.
“The main cause of the traffic jams is the promenading down the Corniche,” said Gary Taylor, aMarina resident.
“Yes the tram takes priority and does slow things down. But it is because people choose to promenade their cars down JBR that is the reason for the trouble.”