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Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: The UAE’s public transport system provides a well-connected network for commuters and while there are inter-city bus services available to any emirate you want to visit, within each emirate, there are different types of public transport systems available as well.

Here, we break down all the ways in which you can travel around the UAE using public transport.

Dubai

Dubai’s public transport is managed by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). With the most options for public transport, residents and visitors to Dubai can enjoy moving across the city without having to spend a fortune on taxis.

Dubai’s public transport services even offer free WiFi and the city is not far from being the first city to have driverless transport!

In Dubai, you have the following options for public transport:

  1. Bus
  2. Metro
  3. Tram
  4. Water bus
  5. Dubai Ferry
  6. Abra or Water Taxi
  7. Dubai Taxi

Before you begin, it is important to know about the Nol card, which is the card you need to use for most of the services listed above.

What is the Nol card and how can I get it?

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Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Nol cards are the accepted payment option on most RTA services and have been integrated with a lot of other services offered by the Dubai government as well, like paying for parking in public areas.

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These are the different types of Nol cards you can get:

1. Nol Red ticket - A paper card which can be purchased for Dh2, this is perfect for one-off usage. It is valid for 90 days 10 single trips. No documents required to apply.

2. Nol Silver card - for a one-time payment of Dh25 (with Dh19 that can be spent on services), the silver card is valid for five years. No documents required to apply.

3. Nol Gold card - the Gold card allows users the ability to access the Gold Class cabins on Dubai Metro. To get the card, you need to pay Dh25 (with Dh19 that can be spent on services). It is also valid for five years. No documents required to apply.

4. Nol Blue card - This is a personalised card which requires activation and is linked to your Emirates ID. You need to provide your photograph and Emirates ID at the Metro ticket office and pay Dh70 (with Dh20 that can be spent on services). The card is valid for five years and can be converted into a monthly pass with the following options:

  • unlimited travel within one zone for Dh140 per month
  • unlimited travel within two zones for Dh230 per month
  • unlimited travel within all zones for Dh350 per month

The monthly pass only applies to Dubai Bus, Metro and tram services.

How can I get it?

Depending on which card you want to get, you can apply for the Nol card at any Metro ticket station, at a ticket vending machine or online on nol.ae

For a quick comparison of all the Nol card options and where you can get each, you can check out this handy comparison chart by the RTA

Charges

The RTA pricing system has integrated the bus, metro and tram rides and only considers how far you have travelled during a trip, regardless of which mode you have used.

The price is calculated based on how many 'zones' you have crossed. The RTA has divided it's public transport network into seven zones. So, you could switch from a metro trip to a bus and then a tram and if you are in the same zone, it will be considered as a single trip. Just make sure the time taken to use the next mode of transport is less than 30 minutes! Any trips taken after 30 minutes, even if within the same zone, will be charged as a separate trip.

Depending on the card you choose, this is how much you can be charged for using public transport:

  1. Within one zone - Dh3-Dh6
  2. Two adjacent zones - Dh5-Dh10
  3. More than two zones - Dh7.5-Dh10
  4. Students, senior citizens, people of determination and chlidren under the age of five travel for free.

Who are people of determination?

PLAN YOUR DUBAI PUBLIC TRANSPORT JOURNEY
You can plan your journey within the UAE by calling RTA on 800 9090 or by using their journey planning app - Wojhati. Wojhati is available on Apple appstore and Android playstore, or you can visit wojhati.rta.ae

1. Dubai Bus

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Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

The Dubai Bus service caters to over 300,000 people each day with over 1,500 buses in the fleet. Commuters have access to special feeder buses from Metro stations to surrounding areas, inter-city buses and fast line buses as well.

Bus stops can be found across Dubai, with information on which buses cover the route of each bus station. Many bus stations are air-conditioned, with the RTA also introducing Smart stations which facilities like Nol top-up machines, vending machines and information screens.

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An RTA Smart Shelter. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

2. Dubai Metro

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Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Supplied

The Dubai Metro is a driverless system, with two main lines covering the entire city – Red line and Green line.

In its first 10 years of operation, it catered to over 1.5billion riders and has changed the lifestyle of many residents in the UAE.

The Red Line and Green Line run like arteries through the city. These are the stations on the Red line:

  1. Rashidiya
  2. Emirates
  3. Airport Terminal 3
  4. Airport Terminal 1
  5. GGICO formerly Al Garhoud
  6. Deira City Centre
  7. Al Rigga
  8. Union
  9. BurJuman
  10. ADCB
  11. Al Jaffliya
  12. World Trade Centre
  13. Emirates Towers
  14. Financial Centre
  15. Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall
  16. Business Bay
  17. Noor Bank
  18. First Abu Dhabi Bank
  19. Mall of the Emirates
  20. Sharaf DG
  21. Dubai Internet City
  22. Nakheel
  23. DAMAC Properties
  24. DMCC
  25. Nakheel Harbour & Tower
  26. Ibn Battuta
  27. Energy
  28. Danube
  29. UAE Exchange

These are the stations on the Green line:

  1. Etisalat
  2. Al Qusais
  3. Dubai Airport Free Zone
  4. Al Nahda
  5. Stadium
  6. Al Qiyadah
  7. Abu Hail
  8. Abu Baker Al Siddique
  9. Salah Al Din
  10. Union
  11. Baniyas Square
  12. Palm Deira
  13. Al Ras
  14. Al Ghubaiba
  15. Al Fahidi
  16. BurJuman formerly Khalid Bin Al Waleed
  17. Oud Metha
  18. Dubai Healthcare City
  19. Al Jadaf
  20. Creek
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A route map of the Red Line and Green Line. Image Credit: Supplied

A quick check on the RTA’s journey planner website, Wojhati, suggests that it would take you an hour and eight minutes to travel the Red Line from one end (Rashidiya) to the other (UAE Exchange).

To traverse the Green Line, it would take around 42 minutes.

If you wish to switch from the Red Line to the Green Line and vice versa, you can do so at two stations where the lines meet:

  1. Union station (in Deira)
  2. BurJuman station (in Bur Dubai)

Feeder buses

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The Feeder buses have the same colour as the Metro, for easy identification. Image Credit: Gulf News

The metro stations are connected to nearby areas with RTA Feeder buses. Buses mostly run every day during metro operating hours every 10 minutes and you can find one by waiting at the bus stop next to each Metro station.

3. Dubai Tram

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Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai Tram, currently, is a link between Dubai Metro and the Palm Monorail, running along Al Sufouh Road and Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai.

4. Water Bus

The Water Bus service is available in the Marina area of Dubai, as well as a route from Al Jadaf to the Dubai Water Canal.

For the Marina area, three routes are plied from 10am to 11pm on weekdays and 12noon to midnight on Fridays and public holidays.

Routes and costs

  • Dubai Marina Walk – Marina Terrace (BM1) Dh3
  • Dubai Marina Mall – Marina Promenade (BM1) Dh3
  • Dubai Marina Walk - Dubai Marina Mall (BM1) Dh5
  • Marina Promenade – Marine Terrace (BM1) Dh11

For the Al Jadaf to Water Canal route, the water bus has four stops and passengers are charged accordingly. The route is:

  1. Al Jaddaf Marine Transport Station
  2. Dubai Design District Marine Transport
  3. Al Wajeha Al Maeyah Marine Transport Station
  4. Sheikh Zayed Road Marine Transport Station
  5. Dubai Canal Marine Transport Station

Passengers are charged at the rate of Dh2 per stop, with a one-way trip costing Dh8. Payment can be made using Nol cards.

5. Dubai Ferry

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Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Supplied

The Dubai Ferry is a great way to enjoy a trip down Dubai’s coastline, while enjoying a different view of the city. The fares, however, are slightly higher as the round trip at any given time can be from one hour to an hour forty minutes, depending on the route you choose.

Route 1

Al Ghubaiba Ferry Station – Dubai Water Canal Station – Dubai Marina Mall Station and vice versa

Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes

Cost

  • Dh50 Silver class (one way)
  • Dh70 Gold class (one way)
  • Children 0 – 5 years (free)

Route 2

Round trip: Al Ghubaiba Ferry Station – Jumeirah Beach

Duration: 1 hour-round trip

Cost:

  • Gold Class: Dh75 per person. Dh210 for a family package (2 adults and 2 children)
  • Silver Class: Dh50 per person. Dh140 for a family package (2 adults and 2 children).
  • Children aged 2 – 10 years receive a 50% discount on the single ticket fares, while children under 2 years ride for free.

Route 3

Round trip: Dubai Marina Mall Ferry Station – Palm Jumeirah – Atlantis The Palm

Duration: 1 hour-round trip

Cost:

  • Gold Class: Dh75 per person. Dh210 for a family package (2 adults and 2 children)
  • Silver Class: Dh50 per person. Dh140 for a family package (2 adults and 2 children).
  • Children aged 2 – 10 years receive a 50% discount on the single ticket fares, while children under 2 years ride for free.

6. Abra or Water Taxi

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Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

For a truly Dubai experience, every resident should at least once travel on the Dubai Abra.

The wooden boat rides have evolved a lot over the years, but were the most traditional mode of transport in Dubai, connecting the two business hubs – Bur Dubai and Deira – back when trading first started in the city, decades ago.

The ride still costs Dh1 per trip and is to be paid by cash. The air-conditioned abra has also been made available, for a cost of Dh2 per trip.

7. Dubai Taxi

RTA manages the taxi service in the country, with private operators registering with the authority.

Apart from regular taxis, the RTA offers many more options like special airport taxis or taxis driven by female drivers for women and families.

1. Public taxi - This general service is open to all customers who wish to use taxis for all their different travel needs within the UAE. The starting fare is at Dh5 or Dh12 during peak hours. The trip is calculated at Dh1.82 per km and waiting charge is calculated at 50fils per minute. The minimum fare that you will need to pay Dh12.

2. Ladies and families taxi - Ladies and families taxi is a dedicated service driven by female drivers, exclusive to ladies and families. The starting fare is Dh8 or Dh9 after 11pm-6am.

3. Airport taxi – This is a special serving the Dubai International Airport terminals. The fare starts at Dh25 and the trip is charged at Dh1.75 per km.

4. Hatta taxi – this service connects the city of Hatta, which is a popular tourist destination and part of the emirate of Dubai. Trip is charged at Dh25 per person in the seven-seater taxi.

5. People of determination taxi – This is a taxi service that you can book specifically for a person of determination, which is enabled with services to make their journey easy.

If you pay using a Nol card, you will be charged an additional fee of Dh1 and if you pay using a debit or credit card, you will be charged Dh2.

Careem and the RTA launched together a new service, Hala, which will allow users to book RTA taxis through the Careem app.

To book a taxi, call 04 2080808.

Inter-city buses

All the emirates in the UAE are connected through a network of buses, with transport authorities collaborating to ply the routes.

Bus services start early, at around 5am on some routes, as many workers travel from one emirate to the other every day. Frequently used routes, like those connecting Sharjah, Dubai, Ajman and Abu Dhabi have a higher number of buses at shorter intervals.

The cost of each trip depends on the route taken. For a short inter-emirate trip, say from Sharjah to Ajman, you will only need to pay Dh3. However, if you want to travel from Dubai to Fujairah the journey can cost around Dh30.

The inter-city buses connect only the central bus stations of each emirate and it is important to contact the relevant transport authority before beginning your journey.

Abu Dhabi

In Abu Dhabi, the Department of Transport manages the public transport systems with the following options for public transport:

  1. Bus
  2. Ferry
  3. Taxi

1. Bus service

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Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

The Bus Office at the Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi operates around 650 busses on over 95 service routes catering to more than 50 million passengers within the different regions of Abu Dhabi.

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Cost:

  • Dh2 for trips within the city area
  • Dh4 for trips outside the main city area

2. Ferry service

A ferry also plies from Abu Dhabi’s mainland to Delma Island, which is home to several heritage sites in the capital. The ferry service plies thrice a day on weekdays and twice a day on Fridays.

Cost:

  • Single trip: Dh20
  • Children below 12 years ride for free.

3. Taxi service

Abu Dhabi taxis are managed by the Integrated Transport Centre and if you hail a taxi from the street, the meter starts at Dh5.50. If you book the taxi using the call centre or the ITC app, there is an additional charge of Dh5. The ride is charged at Dh1.82 per km and the waiting charge is calculated at 50fils per minute.

CONTACT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
For all public transport related queries in Abu Dhabi, you can call the Department of Transport on 800 888 88.
To book a taxi, call the Integrated Transport Centre on 600 535353.

Sharjah

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Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News

In Sharjah, commuters have access to bus services as well as a ferry service between Sharjah and Dubai, which commuters can take for Dh15, with ferries at an hour’s interval from 5am to 8pm on weekdays and 3 to 8pm on Fridays.

FOR SHARJAH PUBLIC TRANSPORT QUERIES
For all public transport related queries in Sharjah, you can call Sharjah’s Roads and Transport Authority on 600 522 282.

Ajman

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In Ajman, apart from the bus service, there is also an abra service and taxi service is also available.

Bus service cost:

  • Dh3 if you pay using the Massar card and Dh5 if you pay by cash

Abra service

There are three marine stations from where commuters can ride an abra

  1. Ajman marina
  2. Rashidiya
  3. Al Zorah

Cost:

  • Dh2 for a trip from one station to the other.

Taxi service

In Ajman, the starting fare for a taxi is Dh10. However, if you are taking the taxi to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain, the starting fare is Dh20. For all other emirates, the regular starting fare applies.

The ride is charged at Dh1 for every 0.588 km and the waiting charge is calculated at 50fils per minute.

You will also need to pay a meter closing fee of Dh2.50.

Always remember to ask the driver for the receipt and call 600 599997 in case of any complaints.

CONTACT AJMAN TRANSPORT
For all Ajman-transport related queries, call Ajman Transport 600 599997.

Apart from the emirates above, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah also provide bus services. Check with the relevant authorities in each emirate for more information.

TRANSPORT AUTHORITIES TO CALL
Ras Al Khaimah - 800 1700
Fujairah Transportation Corporation - 09-2244411