Dubai's transportation system is a seamless blend of modernity and tradition. The Dubai Metro, with its Red and Green lines, forms the backbone, whisking you across the city's major spots. The Dubai Tram adds a scenic coastal route, while buses connect every nook and cranny. For a touch of heritage, traditional Abras ply the Dubai Creek. Water buses, taxis, and the monorail offer diverse travel options. Taxis and ride-sharing services ensure convenient travel and eco-friendly choices like bicycles and electric scooters add to the mix. With this array of transportation, exploring Dubai becomes effortless, promising a delightful journey through this dynamic city.
1. Dubai Metro
Inaugurated on 9th September 2009 (09/09/09), the metro has become a favorite among the residents due to its convenient and reliable mode of transportation, even though it is perhaps the only man-less train system. The RTA ( Roads and Transport Authority) had significant effects in making the metro very easy to use and also connecting the entire bustling city spawned over the area of 4114 squared km.
With the metro, you could literally go from Al Qusais (a residential area located at one end of the emirate) to The Ibn Battuta Mall (a trendy mall situated at the other end of the city) in over one hour and cover the area of 45km. Though the metro stations are strategically located, you would often require another mode of transportation to reach the stations since anything is better than walking in Dubai Summers. You could reach these stations by hailing a cab or catching a bus.
There are about 50 stations located all over the city, making up seven 'zones' and two lines that contain these stations. The Red Line (which has stations at or near most of the major tourist destinations and along The Sheikh Zayed Road), and The Green Line (which has stations along the residential part of the city).
Red Line: Runs from Rashidiya to UAE Exchange.
Green Line: Connects Etisalat to Creek.
You would need to buy single, return, and day-pass tickets or a cashless smart card known as Nol cards to get in the metro. It is used for fare payment, offering a contactless and convenient way to travel. It can be topped up at stations or online. There are two types of cards: Nol Red Tickets and Nol Silver Card. Nol Cards can also be used to pay for other modes of transportation in Dubai including trams, buses and taxis.
Nol Red Tickets: This is ideal if you want to use public transport for a day. It needs to be pre-loaded every time you use it and can't be recharged more than ten times.
Nol Silver Card: This is ideal for multiple uses (more than 10) on several days. You can pre-load it with cash, so you don't have to shell out every time you travel.
The metro tickets or the Nol Card can be bought at all the metro stations, bus stations and supermarkets like Carrefour, Spinneys and Waitrose.
Trains run at a frequency of 3-8 minutes during peak hours and 7-15 minutes during non-peak hours. It operates seven days a week. The metro stations operate from:
Monday to Thursday: 5:00 AM to 12:00 AM (midnight)
Friday: 5:00 AM to 1:00 AM (next day)
Saturday: 5:00 AM to 12:00 AM (midnight)
Sunday: 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM (midnight)
Dubai Metro Gold Class
Dubai Metro has three types of cabins: Gold, Silver, and Women & Children cabins. The Gold Class cabin hash plush interiors with panoramic views. The tickets are available for each class separately.
2. Dubai Public Buses
As lovely the metro sounds, it still doesn't have access to a lot of localities in Dubai, which is where the Dubai Bus comes to your rescue, perhaps one of the oldest forms of transportation in Dubai. Though it takes far more time to reach your destination than the metro, it is the more economical way to travel.
Dubai has an extensive bus system that is run by RTA and has around 193 bus routes and over 1,500 bus stations. It transports over 30 million people weekly. The Bus timetables can be found at the bus stations. To combat the Dubai summers, the buses, as well as most of the bus stops, are entirely air-conditioned and equipped with TVs. Various high-end brands, including Mercedes Benz, supply the buses.
The routes are color-coded and cover the entire city, making buses a practical choice for exploring Dubai.
Night buses operate from 11:30 PM to 6:00 AM, serving key areas and providing transportation options during the night.
You can use the buses with only the NOL cards; the cash system is not allowed. You board the bus, swipe your card at the machine, enter the bus, and take the seats.
3. Ride-Sharing and Taxis in DubaiThe Dubai taxis are the most convenient method to get around the city, but at the same time, the most expensive. Taxis are found easily in all parts of Dubai and are incredibly well-maintained. If, however, you urgently need one and there's no taxi around you, you can call the RTA for a cab (8009090), but this also means that the fare would be high. The minimum wage to pay to get to anywhere is AED 12.
The fare during the nighttime, roughly from 11 PM - 4 PM, is pretty high. However, it is the safest and most convenient way to travel at night. The Red light on the taxi indicates that it is occupied. So, search for the yellow light when you hail the cab. Private taxi booking services like Uber or Careem are also easily available.
The Luxurious AlternativesThe below-mentioned forms of transportation are fancy, but they are not ways to get to most of the areas since most of these aren't spread out in the city but rather just a particular area/locality.
4. Dubai Abras
The Dubai Creek separates Deira from Bur Dubai, thereby splitting the city into two. However, Dubai Abra runs in the creek and is cheap but offers a unique experience. Abras are traditional wooden boats that ferry passengers across Dubai Creek, providing a glimpse into the city's history. It provides public transport in Dubai to hundreds of small vendors and tourists. Dubai abra is perhaps the most affordable form of transportation, and it is just AED 1 for a trip.
They operate between Bur Dubai and Deira, allowing for a short but scenic journey.
Route 1: From Deira Old Souk Abra Station (near the Spice Souk) to Bur Dubai Abra Station (west of the Textile Souk).
Route 2: This is a much busier route and runs continuously from Al Sabkha Abra Station (just southwest of Baniyas Square) to Dubai Old Souk Abra Station.
The abra runs every four minutes throughout the day between four stations.
Abras accepts cash for fare payment. It costs just AED 1 per person and takes five minutes to cross the creek
You can buy a one way ticket or hire a private abra for a 1 hour ride
6:00 AM to Midnight every day
5. Dubai Water Bus & Water Taxi
If you feel that abras are too risky, then the water taxi is ideal for you. Air-conditioned and extremely safe, it, however, produces so much noise that it may perhaps ruin your experience. They are available in Dubai Marina, Dubai Creek, etc., and are recommended to experience a scenic background.
Water buses operate along specific routes, while water taxis can be chartered for personalized trips.
Nol Cards can be used for water bus fares, while water taxi fares vary based on distance.
6. Dubai Trams
The trams are the latest addition to public transport in Dubai. It is located mostly in the Dubai Marina districts and also in front of The Dubai Mall, the World's largest mall. The trams are extremely slow, but also convenient to get around in these areas. They are slow but at the same time in a few of the most beautiful regions of Dubai, so you can absorb all the beauty in just a ride!
You need a ticket that is issued at the tram stations to travel. However, if you already have the Nol card, you don't need to purchase the tickets.
The tram route extends from Dubai Marina to Al Sufouh, passing through popular locations like Jumeirah Beach Residence and Dubai Media City.
Integration With Dubai Metro
Integrated with the Dubai Metro, allowing for seamless transfers between the two systems.
Nol Cards can be used for fare payment on the Dubai Tram.
7. Palm MonorailThese are driverless elevated rides that help you travel from the Dubai Marina to Palm Jumeirah. This is ideal if you want to get the best view of major Palm Jumeirah attractions like The Atlantis. Since it is privately owned and not run by the RTA, the fare is comparatively expensive. Tickets can be purchased at the stations or through Nol Cards.
8. Bicycles and Electric Scooters
Tips for Using Public Transportation in Dubai
- The peak hours of traffic are from 7:00 AM - 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM; avoid traveling during these times to prevent congested space and unnecessary delays in your schedule.
- There are a set of rules to follow, like no eating, no drinking, etc. There will be hefty fines for those who are seen violating these rules. There are CCTV cameras installed in almost all types of public transport, so be careful and obey the rules.
- Walking is not recommended during the summer. Crossing the roads anywhere except on the zebra crossing is prohibited, and if caught, you'll have to pay a hefty fine. Many often resort to using a taxi to cross the road!
- Buy a Nol card from before if you are staying for more than a day, and pre-load it with enough cash. You can buy these cards at any metro station.
- There are designated seats/areas for women and children in metros, buses, etc., and if men are seen here, they can be fined or even imprisoned.
- There is heavy traffic during the weekends (Friday and Saturday in the Gulf). However, there is very little traffic in the mornings, so plan your trips wisely since, in the evenings, you'll be stuck in traffic for long hours.
- Wojhati.rta.ae is an excellent way to plan your trips. It has the timetables, stop-overs and even the maps of the routes taken by the buses, metros etc.