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Big mellow taxis

Big mellow taxis

If done right, the water taxi project could be a huge success for Dubai. Kipp takes a look at what’s been done so far, and what’s in the pipeline.

August 10, 2010 4:18 by

Not for the first time, Dubai has an ambitious plan. But this one is a plan with a difference: it’s realistic, and actually quite good. As opposed to other big ideas, which have included a giant building shaped like a man, buildings that move, and underwater hotels (not to mention changing the coast forever with a series of man-made islands), this one is practical, smart, and appealing.

Dubai is developing its marine transport system. Water taxis, introduced just last month, are set to roll out to link with neighboring emirates Sharjah and Ajman next year, according to the director of the RTA, Khalid al Zahed. And by the end of this year, wood-paneled heritage-style abras may begin operating in Dubai’s Marina and the downtown Burj area.

The upbeat plans follow the successful introduction of the new water taxis, which offer luxury journeys between some of Dubai’s high-end hotels and tourist hotspots. In just two weeks the 11 vessels made about 200 trips – double what the RTA expected. It’s not bad, when you consider that was before any advertising was launched, and it hints at a potentially huge demand for a broader marine transport network.

However it has to be said that despite this success, marine transport development in the emirate has been a bit stop-start. In late May Gulf News reported that several projects had been “scaled down”, including a public ferry service.

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