Test 1: The dropped bag
Proposition: How many people will come to Time Out’s aid if we drop the contents of our bag on the train?
Results: Nil. Although a few people did stand up to take a look at us scrabbling about on the floor to reclaim our possessions.
Conclusion: Even though no one helped us (insert sad face), we feel it was more out of respect than meanness. We spotted one man move to give us a hand but then think better of it. Passengers seemed wary of touching our personal effects.
Test 2: Staring
Proposition: Some ladies have complained to us that men stare at them when travelling in unisex carriages. We investigate.
Results: On day one there were nine repeat offenders (they kept staring even when we glared at them) in the space of 10 minutes, and the carriage wasn’t even that busy. It was the same the next day, plus two men were staring none-too-subtly from behind their sunglasses.
Conclusion: It’s not ideal, but the staring isn’t particularly intimidating, especially as there are stewards aboard the train and police on the platforms if you start to feel nervous. Plus, being stared at by men when out in public is pretty much a given wherever you go, in any country. Yes, ladies, we’re that irresistible.
Test 3: Do men come into the ‘women and children only’ carriage?
Proposition: If a man enters the wrong carriage, does he realise his mistake and move?
Results: We sat in the women’s carriage on three occasions, and no men came in at all.
Conclusion: When the metro first started running in September, we saw a few men being asked to move by stewards. It seems everyone has cottoned on now, though.
Test 4: Running for the train
Proposition: Do people move out of the way when you start running for an about-to-depart train?
Results: Some people ‘tut’ at us, others laugh and join in.
Conclusion: It’s like anywhere – there are lovers and haters. We like the camaraderie of a group dash.
Foiled! Test 5: Heavy luggage
Proposition: Will anyone help a lady struggling up the stairs with a heavy case?
Results: After seeing someone with a big suitcase turned away from the train, we realise you can’t take heavy luggage on the metro anyway (the official line is that metro staff should use their discretion to decide whether luggage is too heavy). Useful for the airport stops, eh?
Test 6: Pushing onto the train
Proposition: Do people wait for passengers to disembark before getting on?
Results: Never. We’re always battling against people pushing their way on when we’re trying to leave the train.
Conclusion: People need to chill out. Even on the London Underground – the most unfriendly of public transport options – people wait for passengers to disembark first.
Test 7: Older passengers
Allison England, 62, tells us about the first time she took the metro: ‘As a first timer, the staff made sure I knew exactly what train to get on, and how to use the card to get through the barrier. On the return journey the train was very full, but I was offered a seat by several men, so I sat comfortably and safely.’
Test 8: Pregnant passengers
Dubai resident Laura E is 20 weeks’ pregnant. She tells us: ‘When I was about 12 weeks’ pregnant I was standing on the metro because all the seats were taken. I wasn’t really showing at the time and when some seats became available, two women rushed to take them. I made a point of telling them I was pregnant and one offered me her seat.’ Laura says she will definitely continue taking the metro while pregnant now that more stops are open. ‘I actually feel safer taking the train because a lot of taxi drivers drive like maniacs or talk on their phone while they drive. Often taxis don’t have seat belts, either.’
Three new stations open on May 15: GGICO (Al Garhoud), World Trade Centre and Al Quoz. For more information, see www.rta.ae.