Technical bids have been opened and presentations will be made in mid-December. Commercial bids are expected to be opened in early January with construction to start in early 2008.

The first phase of the scheme involves a tram line running between Al-Sufouh road and Dubai Marina past Dubai Media City to Mall of the Emirates and the proposed Jumeirah Hills development on the existing police academy site. It will be 10 kilometres long with 13 stations.

Maintenance and storage sheds for phase one will be located to the west of the Jumeirah Hills development.

The trams will carry up to 5,200 passengers an hour in each direction, and will be integrated with the metro stations and bus network. Phase two will involve the construction of an additional 6 kilometres leading to a terminal at Mall of the Emirates.

France’s Systra is the consultant (MEED 7:9:07).

The first phase of the tram scheme is expected to open in September 2009, in the same month that the initial phase of the Dubai Metro scheme will begin operations.

Traffic is an ongoing problem in the emirates and more public transport systems are urgently needed to supplement the estimated AED10bn ($2.7bn) worth of road projects under construction.

In November, the RTA confirmed that the Dubai Metro is set to run up to AED2,325 million ($633m) over budget so that it can complete the construction of the Red and Green lines on schedule.

The move could also involve Mitsubishi tripling the number of skilled staff working on the metro project.

The Dubai Urban Rail Link (Durl) consortium building the two lines requested an extension to the schedule because of extensive changes to the project’s specifications since it was awarded in June 2005.

The RTA is also planning 586 kilometres of new metro and tram lines that will serve new developments such as Jebel Ali airport (Dubai Airport City), Dubailand, Palm Deira and Dubai Waterfront.
Other public transport services are also being expanded.

The RTA will buy 2,500 new buses by 2020, and will build 800 air-conditioned bus shelters as it extends the network to 3,000 kilometres.

An air-conditioned water bus service was introduced in July 2007 and a more extensive ferry service is in the planning stages.

The Al-Sufouh area is expected to house 180,000 residents by 2020, and with Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Knowledge Village and various hotels will provide employment for 210,000 people.