Dubai’s public transport system is highly resilient and as a result, the passenger numbers on the Dubai Metro have broadly reached the pre-pandemic level, said Bernard Tabary, CEO of Keolis, operator of the Dubai Metro and Dubai Tram.

In September 2021, Keolis was awarded a 15-year contract by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to run operations of the driverless Metro and Tram network.

In 2019, the Dubai Metro had a total of 202.98 million passengers. The number dropped to 113.63 million in 2020 due to travel restrictions and work-from-home practice implemented following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.

But Dubai successfully overcame the pandemic and became one of the world’s first cities to open after the pandemic with most of the economic and social activities resuming in 2021.

“Dubai’s metro was never stopped during the pandemic and it is amazingly clean. The infrastructure network, which is the backbone of Dubai, has served the city really well in the time of pandemic and it is serving well at the moment when we are coming out of the pandemic. We understand passenger volumes on Metro are quite high and broadly at the pre-Covid level. By riding a metro or tram, one can observe that it is very busy,” Tabary told Khaleej Times in an interview on Sunday.

“Dubai is amazingly resilient and the fact that the Mena Transport Congress and Exhibition 2022 happening here after two years reflects the city’s resilience. I was running in the metro the other day and it was amazingly full. Dubai has always been moving forward from many aspects and it’s returning to normalcy,” he said during an interview on the sidelines of the exhibition.

The company is also looking at enhancing cooperation with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai and opportunities in the other Gulf countries.

“Dubai is one of the smartest, most connected, and fastest-growing cities in the world. It is also one of the largest hubs with many visitors coming from all over the world for business or leisure. We are operating one of the most successful, advanced and modern transport systems on behalf of RTA, which has the highest standards in the industry and a strong reputation for innovation, excellence, and efficiency,” said the CEO of Paris-based Keolis, which has a presence in 16 countries and 68,000 employees worldwide.

New technologies

He also revealed that the company plans to implement a smart station concept by the end of the first year of its contract, where it will test new technologies in the fields of customer services, operations and maintenance.

“New technologies include a passenger service robot, a drone for inspection of the external façades and an autonomous rubbish collector,” he added.


He added that Keolis will use smart tools to facilitate asset monitoring by automating inspections and connecting equipment with real-time condition monitoring.

“For example, we will experiment sensors on trains and platform screen doors and implement a track and third rail automated inspection system to prevent failures based on data analysis.”

The public transport operator has also increased workforce in key areas and doubled the size of the response teams and equipped them with digital devices so that if there is a technical failure in the network, they can respond immediately and rely on the eye of the expert who, from the Operating Control Centre, can diagnose the problem remotely and give relevant and precise instructions to the team on the ground to solve the problem more quickly and limit the disruption time.

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