The great era of subway building in America occurred well before my birth, with construction of lines in Boston, New York and Chicago occurring as early as the end of the 19th century. America still has an infrastructure boom, but when it relates to public transit most construction involves buses or light rail, as in Houston and Seattle.
However, Dubai, the land of the perpetually intense infrastructure accomplishment, is building a brand spanking new subway system. The first line on the 318 km system is slated to open in September. The subway system will consist of a red line and a green line. Granted, most of the system will be above ground (largely on elevated track), but much of it will be below ground as well. From the first-person video below, the system looks mighty comfy and has all the tricks we expect from public transit like dual sliding doors and symbolic maps showing stops in multiple languages.
The Metro will be equipped to run as frequently as every 90 seconds. All the above ground viaducts will not intersect with highways. With a current population of 1.5 million and a projected population by 2020 of 5.25 million people, the system is expected to handle 1.2 million riders. Yet the trains are not without a little old-world Arab “charm.”
The driverless, fully automated trains are fully air-conditioned and designed to meet Dubai’s specific requirements. Unusual for metro operation, the trains will offer standard ‘Silver’ class, a women and children only section plus a first class ‘Gold’ section (‘carriage for VIPS’). Five-car sets will be approximately 75m long, seating around 400 passengers but with standing room for many more. Numerous double doors will allow fast and smooth flows.
So all you transit fans, if you plan a trip to Dubai to see some of the world’s newest subways, enjoy a pleasant ride, just don’t expect to do so in an equal-opportunity kind of way.