Dubai is best known for its glitz and glamour, but it also has a low cost and efficient public transport system – including a fantastic network of buses.
Although many Dubai dwellers rely on taxis and cars, more of us than ever are catching the bus in Dubai.
The emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) wants to see 30 per cent of city using buses by 2030. And why not? They’re clean, comfortable and cheap and cover 82 per cent of urban Dubai, with Intercity routes going to Ajman, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and Hatta.
There are 114 lines, including 170 double deckers, 31 of which are feeder buses for the Metro, and they generally run from very early in the morning to late at night (times vary for each route).
So leave the car at home, give your wallet a rest from flagging a taxi down and join the 151.1 million riders who caught a bus in Dubai in 2016.
Here’s our simple five step guide to bossing the buses.
Step 1: Where are you going?
Dubai has 114 bus routes all over the city. To see a list of them and find which one you need to take, go to www.dubai-buses.com.
Still confused? RTA has launched journey planner Wojhati (it means ‘my destination in Arabic).
It lets you enter your start point and and end destination, then shows you all the possible buses you can catch. Pretty simple.
Does your commute involve more than one form of transport? The RTA’s handy spider map shows how its buses link with the Metro, Tram, Marine Transport and more.
If you’re out and about and don’t have access to the internet, bus stops carry printed information on routes and times. Fancier air-conditioned shelters also have electronic screens that are updated by the minute.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be waiting in one of 100 Smart Shelters, where commuters can enjoy free WiFi, grab a snack, buy and recharge Nol cards and wait for a bus, of course.
Step 2: Buy a ticket
Once you have decided where you are headed, you need a ticket.
These can be purchased from all vending machines at Metro stations and some bus stops, ticket offices, RTA customer service centres or online, but not on the buses themselves.
Red NoL passes are a one-time ticket to your destination and start from AED 4, depending on where you’re travelling to.
They can be loaded for up to 10 trips but can only be used on one mode of transport at a time, so you can’t switch between bus and Metro.
Silver, gold and blue Nol cards can be used on all forms of public transport and topped up at any ticket vending machine.
The silver cards are AED 25 and include AED 19 of credit. Same for the gold cards, but they’ll get you access to the VIP gold carriage on the Metro.
Blue cards are personalised, so if they’re lost, you can cancel them and get your credit back. They’re slightly more expensive at AED 70 with AED 20 credit.
Compare them all here.
Step 3: Get onboard
When you see the bus you want arriving at the bus stop, give it a wave. Jump on, swipe your Nol card and settle down for the ride.
Unless you’re catching the J1 Al Freej bus from Barsha to Jumeirah Village Circle – what makes it a little bit different is that when it’s safe to do so, drivers can divert from the circular route of 23 stops to drop off disabled or elderly passengers.
Buses are air conditioned and there are screens and announcements in English and Arabic telling you which stop is coming up.
The first three rows of seats on all buses are ladies only, so guys, don’t sit in those!
Step 4: Relax and enjoy the ride
Enjoy your bus ride and do not attempt to leave the bus until it has completely stopped.
Before then, it’s the perfect opportunity to read, people watch and listen to music (not too loudly though).
Eating and drinking on the buses is also not allowed and you can’t bring pets onboard. Keep your ticket handy incase an inspector gets on board and if a sing-song starts, be sure to join in (We’ve know it happen on longer journeys).
Step 5: We’re here!
The same way you got on, when you’re on the bus and want to get off it, there’s a stop button that you can push and you’ll need to check out your Nol card.