The commute between Dubai and Sharjah has now become a smooth sail as Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) on Saturday launched a daily ferry service between Al Ghubaiba Marine Station in Dubai and Aquarium Marine Station in Sharjah.
The first marine transit service operated between Dubai and any other emirate, the ferry launch has a capacity to serve 1.3 million riders per year and is subject to increase if needed.
The service comes at an affordable fare of Dh15 in Silver Class and Dh25 in Gold Class, with the journey being free for people of determination and children below five.
The transit time between Al Ghubaiba and Aquarium stations is about 35 minutes, and the service frequency every 30 minutes during morning peak hours (5am to 9 am) and evening peak hours (4 pm to 8.30 pm) from Saturday to Sunday. The service interval will be one-and-a-half hours during off-peak times.
The first journey will depart from Dubai at 5.15 am and the last journey will leave at 8pm. From Sharjah, the first journey will be at 5am and the last one will depart at 7.30 pm.
Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA, said: “The new marine transit line boosts cooperation between Dubai and Sharjah by offering more mobility options between the two emirates. It will ease the pressure on roads through offering a safe and quick marine transport solution.
“The ferry will be operating 42 journeys (21 in each direction) daily. Commuters are offered free parking as well as internal bus service at Sharjah Aquarium Marine Station.
“The two stations have been carefully selected for specific considerations. Al Ghubaiba is the key marine transit station in Dubai and is connected with Dubai Creek, Dubai Marina and the Water Canal. It is also integrated with Metro and bus stations and has a taxi service as well.
“Sharjah Aquarium Marine Station was selected as it will reduce the transit time, has abundant parking space and is shaping into a tourist and residential hotspot. So the service is anticipated to attract all community segments.”
He said RTA has nine ferries operating in eight stations, namely Al Ghubaiba, Al Marina Mall, Al Jadaf, Water Canal, Sheikh Zayed Road, Water Front, Marasi and Dubai Design District.
The ferry boasts of high safety standards, experienced crew, rescue and firefighting equipment and anti-maritime pollution.
“It is fitted with five life-rafts, has a capacity to accommodate 125 riders, 110 life jackets and six safety life-buoys. The cockpit is fitted with navigation tools such as marine radar, sea depth measuring instrument, electronic maps, and tracking devices as required by international standards.
Dubai Ferry has obtained international certifications for onboard safety, the last of which was the ISM certificate awarded by Bureau Veritas; an accredited French entity in the classification of ships for IACS.
“It is considered the highest international standard assuring the quality of safe operation of ships and preventing maritime pollution in accordance with Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS); the UN-approved system for the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Eng. Salah bin Butti, advisor of Planning and Survey Department and vice chairman of Urban Planning Council in Sharjah, said: “The operation of marine transit service between the two emirates is another episode of shared public transport initiatives, which started with the public bus service. Work is currently underway between RTA in Dubai, Planning and Survey Department in Sharjah, and RTA in Sharjah to enhance this service and align it with latest international practices of the industry.
“The concerned parties in both emirates are making relentless efforts to ease the traffic congestion fueled by the upswing seen by the UAE driven by the massive growth in the number of vehicles and other complexities relating to the geographical location of both emirates and highways connecting the UAE.
“To encourage the use of marine transit service, Aquarium Marine Station is being supported by Park-and-Ride facility for up to 300 vehicles for marine transit users. A shuttle bus service will be on call at Heart of Sharjah, passing by Corniche and Al Majaz, to connect with the marine station near Sharjah Aquarium. We also intend to expand the bus route to serve other parts of Sharjah city,” he added.
Eng. Yusuf Saleh Al Suwaiji, chairman of RTA Sharjah, said: “This service will contribute to realising the vision of Sharjah’s RTA aimed at introducing diverse mobility means to meet the needs of various public transport users including citizens, residents and tourists. Moreover, marine transport is a safe and convenient mobility mode that offers a great chance for viewing captivating urban facilities stretching along the coastal line from Sharjah Aquarium up to Al Ghubaiba Marine Station in Dubai.
“Sharjah’s RTA has provided all structures and logistics for operating the service including a marina for the ferry fitted with all required utilities. It has also constructed the required buildings including waiting lounges for males and females, toilettes, ticketing counter and a ticket-vending machine,” he concluded.