The drive to service a growing population with efficient public transport in the UAE is ongoing. So too are efforts to diversity the economy by investing in state-of-the-art public transport infrastructure comprising railways metros, public buses, marine transport (abras, ferries, water taxis) and road taxis.
Dubai Metro, a fully automated rail network which came into operation in 2009, runs two lines. The metro also connects with the Jumeirah tram route, which became operational in 2014.
Extensions to the existing Red and Green lines and three new lines, Blue, Gold and Purple, as well as to the Jumeirah tram route, are planned. The expansion of the route will take place in three distinct phases with scheduled completion dates in 2020, 2025 and 2030. At that stage, 30 per cent of residents in the emirate are expected to use public transport.
RTA estimates that Dubai's population will exceed 3.1 million by 2020, when the first phase extending the Red and Green lines will be completed. Over 25 million visitors are also expected to visit Expo 2020 Dubai, many of whom will use the metro line that will service the Expo site.
Plans are also being made to connect the metro with the new UAE national railway network, Etihad Rail, a hugely significant project in terms of economic development. The three-stage, Dh40 billion rail system will eventually carry freight and passengers, making a significant contribution to the UAE economy. The Federal Government Coordination Committee for Etihad Rail, the master developer for the 1,200 kilometre network, has been given the task of connecting industrial, urban and rural centres throughout the UAE by 2018.
Stage one, 264 kilometres of rail linking Habshan to the oil port of Ruwais in Abu Dhabi, is already in operation. A sleeper factory has been established at Mirfa and locomotives and wagons have been imported. The railway transports sulphur from the Shah sour gas project. Stage two, 628 kilomentres of track connecting Mussafah, Khalifa and Jebeli Ali port and extending along the coast to the Saudi border at Ghweifat, is currently under construction. Stage three will run to the Omani border, as well as connecting the thriving oil and gas logistic hub of Fujairah with the rest of the country. When completed, the Etihad Rail network will form part of the GCC Railway Network, linking the UAE with Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, including ports on the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Gulf, capitalising on the country's strategic geographical position.
Abu Dhabi City also has plans for a new metro and light rail network connencting areas such as the Central Busines District and Saadiyat Island.