Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Return to the Yaristocracy

It seems that the Yaristocratic masses have mucked up Hertz’ business plan. Presumably there is an average rental income gleaned off each car before its residual value starts to get badly affected by large numbers on the odometer, and having the Goat and all the other Dubai to Abu Dhabi Yaristocrats each whacking 2000km on it every week does not suit the business plan at all. Consequently, despite a signed rental agreement to the contrary, Hertz changed the ‘unlimited’ part of its terms and conditions while the Goat was swanning around Italy, and capped the monthly distance at 4000km with any excess charged at 30 fils per kilometre. And that’s rather a lot of additional cost at the end of the month.

This is not good for the Goat’s finances, so following some fervent bleating, he got the 4000km changed to 5000km. Meanwhile, alternative options are being sought.

One of the alternatives is only available in Dubai. It’s a combination of bus and metro.

The Goat’s previous experience, reported here, was not altogether good, with the main problem being having to buy (as in hand over cash in advance of any actual fare) a prepayment ‘nol’ card and charge it with credit prior to embarking on the journey. Having done this, there were two dirhams of credit remaining at the end of the return journey and, it being late evening, there was no apparent way of recharging the card for next time. Another issue was the inane muzak on the train, although the Goat is pleased to note that this has apparently now ceased. Good riddance.

The Goat was recently invited over to Chateau Dogs in Arabian Ranches. He doesn’t drink and drive, so public transport was a compulsory option. The first problem was recharging the ‘nol’ card. Per Dubai RTA’s website, nowhere in Mirdif can do it. On-line recharge is, after a year, ‘coming soon’. So His Caprinity had to stop off at a metro station while Yarising his way back from Abu Dhabi.

Brilliant! You need to travel by private, personal transport in order to be permitted to use the public transport system. What genius thought that one up?

Having credit, the journey from Mirdif to Rashidiya to Mall of the Emirates to Arabian Ranches only cost five dirhams... and took two and a quarter hours. Most of this was in air-conditioned comfort; almost none was spent standing around awaiting connections. And here is a fundamental problem with the system in its current incarnation: it’s mind-numbingly slow. The Filipino crossing himself and kissing his crucifix when the Arabian Ranches feeder bus set off was also less than confidence-inspiring.

The taxi home took 20 minutes, cost less than Dh50, including tip, and deposited the Goat right outside the Crumbling Villa. Not that there were any buses or trains running in the wee small hours.

Despite Ibn Battuta mall being open until midnight, for example, the last metro finishes at Rashidiya terminal at 11pm, so you’ve got to finish your shopping, restaurant or cinema by 9:30pm at the latest in order to stand any chance of getting back to Mirdif. In a society where many families apparently don’t even consider dragging their children out to the mall until 9pm, it doesn’t make the metro the most convenient option, does it?



Anonymous said...

Interesting report on the metro. I left Dubai before it was finished and only had the PR version of people using the metro. It sounds like this Nol card is like Salik, you will never get the cash left on it back.
Did they create a weekly pass like the Oyster card?

Keef said...

That is disappointing. Our wonderful Metro in Madrid stops at 1am and restarts at 6am, with real people driving the trains. A few days ago it was 'Noche en Blanco' - the White Night, and the Metro kept running til 3am.

Carol Hyland said...

Hhmm yes I'm not convinced of the merits of the metro. Especially as the only time I considered it as an advantageous means of transport - getting me to the airport one Friday morning - I discovered no trains were running. It's obvious: no one travels or catches flights on a Friday morning. How silly of me...
Just come back from Bangkok where their lovely cheap, fast 'sky train' runs 24 hours (I think).


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