RTA buses wait for passengers at the Satwa bus station. Image Credit: Karen Dias/Gulf News

Dubai: Payment of fare for intercity buses between Dubai and Sharjah can now be made through Nol cards as the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) expands the Unified Automated Fair Collection system network, a senior RTA official said.

Commuters can now save their time and effort spent while standing in long queues to make payment for trips to other emirates, particularly to Sharjah, as they can now use the same Nol card that they use for paying for the Metro and Dubai bus fares.

“It is part of RTA’s efforts to unify the payment system which will cover all modes of transport. It is more convenient for people to use payment mode for all means of transport rather than struggling to keep change and waiting in queues to pay the fare,” said Mohammad Al Ali, Director of Buses at RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

The Nol payment system currently covers the Dubai Metro network, Dubai city buses and water buses as well as parking meters in Dubai. It is also used as a “Combi-card”, a co-branded card issued by RTA in association with Emirates National Bank of Dubai that works both as a Nol card credit/debit card at the same time.

As the RTA’s expansion plan gets under way, Nol is now implemented on all Dubai-Sharjah routes and work is now in progress to add more intercity routes to Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and Ajman.

“Testing is going on for other routes and Nol will be launched on all intercity routes in the near future,” added Al Ali.

He said that the implementation of Nol won’t bring any additional cost to the commuters and the fares will remain the same.

“The existing fares will continue for all intercity routes and the correct amount will be deducted from the Nol card at the time of check-in and check-out of the bus,” assured Al Ali.

Work is also under way to introduce Nol along with credit card payment system on taxis in Dubai.

“We are currently working on the implementation process and integrating Nol with the taxi’s D8 system and it should be ready soon. Implementation will be done in batches, with a few hundred taxis getting the upgrade at a time and over the next six months all taxis, including those owned by franchises, should be ready,” said Yousuf Al Ali, CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

All types of Nol cards, except for the red tickets, will applicable for both taxis and intercity buses.

RTA’s intercity buses make around 900 trips on 12 routes to and from different emirates carrying 35,000 passengers daily, while ridership on seven routes between Sharjah and Dubai alone is 17,000.

A unique mode of payment and one of a kind system in the region, the Nol card has won international acclaim and recently won the Best Prepaid Card in the Middle East Award in the Smart Card Awards Middle East 2013.

Since its launch in September 2009, around 5 million Nol cards have been issued, with around 1 million transactions carried out through various uses of the card.