Sunday, December 20, 2009

First impressions last

Beloved Wife declared last evening that we had to run an errand to the Mall of the Emirates. Having just spent all day on a Gulf News Fun Drive marshals’ run-through I was in no mood to drive. I thought of the nightmare of attempting to park in a busy mall car park, and, on a whim, brightly suggested trying the Metro.

We’ve not used the Metro before. My understanding is that all ticketing is electronic, with pre-paid credit being deducted from a so-called ‘NOL’ card.

But neither of us had a ‘nol’ card. We walked from the Crumbling Villa and waited in the ice-box bus shelter for the feeder bus. When it arrived, the driver said he couldn’t take our cash, and suggested that we go and buy our ‘nol’ cards from Spinneys. That can’t be right: surely it must be possible to buy a card from the bus driver, as Beloved Wife’s friend managed to do a couple of weeks ago?

No, apparently. Ah, well. Perhaps the driver’s English isn’t good, although how much of any language do you need to take money from the customer and issue a ticket/smart card/receipt? So I asked a bus passenger. He confirmed what the driver had said, except that it was Carrefour, not Spinneys. Neither one of these emporia is within walking distance of the Crumbling Villa, which is less than convenient.

There might be a bit of a logic leap here, but this was not as if I’d boarded the bus and attempted to buy 20 Marlboro. What kind of half-baked system exists to encourage people out of their cars on to public transport, and then refuses to sell them tickets to use that public transport?

The reason for my quandary is obvious. The bus driver was clearly an imbecile. Not a good way to sell your product, is it? But then again, Dubai is full of examples of retailers who populate their shops with staff who know the square-root of sod all about the product they’re selling, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised.

I felt spurned and snubbed, and was all for rejecting Dubai’s public transport system for ever on the basis of this encounter. However, Beloved Wife still had to run her errand, so we walked home, drove to Rashidiya, parked the car, and bought our ‘nol’ cards at the station. From then on, using the Metro was painless.



Bush Mechanic said...

The buses to the Arabian Ranches from MOE have been a great improvement for residents....but when you stand at the F30 bus stop at the MOE and wait for the Arabian Ranches bus to come in then board it, it would be helpful if the bus driver could announce that he has changed the bus number and route before taking the Arabian Ranch travelers to the Emirates Hills.

Grace @ Sandier Pastures said...

I'm a regular bus user and yes, it's a pain to see someone refused of a bus ride because he/she has no Nol card and the driver doesn't sell any.

Commuters need to buy the Nol card in any of the Metro Stations or at SELECTED (not all) bus stations all over the city. Sometimes, these card machines do not accept bills, only coins or the other way around. It's even non-functional on some days!

Honestly, there are still inconveniences on the commuting public part but Dubai's public transport system has GREATLY improved than that of 2,3 years back.

Mme Cyn said...

Painless except for the gawdawful four bar musak rif that played from Rashidiya to Jebel Ali and back again. Over and over and over and over and over. 48 minutes we were on that train and those twelve notes from hell were unremitting --- I think this will keep me off of the Dubai Metro in future.

memory foam said...

From Rashidiya, you may easily commute and buy "nol" cards as well. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

- Vincent T.

The Yellow Box Of Doom said...

I shall add this to the LONG list of reasons I'm glad we left Dubai!!


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