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Public Transport in Dubai

Dubai is hailed to be one of the Global Tourism Spots. So it's no surprise that the city also consistently ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the world. Which is exactly why we present you the ways to visit the tourist sites without shelling too much on the transport.

There are two main economic ways to get around the city: The Metro, and The Bus. Though the Dubai cabs are the most convenient way to get around the city, are rather expensive. There are also The Water Taxi, Palm Monorail, and The Tram.

The Metro

Inaugurated on 9th September 2009 (09/09/09), the metro has become a favourite 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) took great effects in making 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 very popular mall located at the other end of the city) in over one hour and cover the area of 45km.

So how exactly does this facility work?

There are about 50 stations located all over the city, making up seven 'zones' and two lines which 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). You could reach these stations by hailing a cab or catching a bus, though these 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 would require Nol cards to get in the metro. There are two types of cards: Nol Red Tickets and Nol Silver Card. The former is ideal if you want to use the public transport for a day. It needs to be pre-loaded every time you use it and can't be recharged more than 10 times. The latter is ideal for multiple uses (more than 10) on multiple days, you can pre-load it with cash so you don't have to shell out every time you travel.
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Getting a Bus in Dubai

As lovely the metro sounds like, it still doesn't have access to a lot of localities in the city, which is where the Dubai Bus, comes to your rescue, perhaps one of the oldest forms of public transportation. Though it takes far more time to reach your destination than the metro, it is the more economical way to travel.

The city has a very large bus system that is run by RTA and has around 193 bus routes and over 1500 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 completely air-conditioned and equipped with TVs. The buses are supplied by various high-end brands including Mercedes Benz. You can use the buses with only the Nol cards, cash system is not allowed. You board the bus, swipe your card at the machine, enter the bus and take the seats.
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Hiring a Taxi in Dubai

The 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 extremely well-maintained. If however, you urgently need one, and there's no taxi around you, you can call the RTA for a taxi (8009090), but this also means that the fare would be high. The minimum wage to pay to get to anywhere is AED 12.

You sadly can't use your Nol card in most of the taxis, and you will have to pay by cash. 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.

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The Luxurious Alternatives

The 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, rather just a particular area/locality.

Dubai Trams

These trams are the latest addition to the public transports. It is located mostly at the Dubai Marina districts, and also in front of The Dubai Mall, 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 few of the most beautiful areas 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.
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Palm Monorails

These 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.
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Dubai Abra

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. It provides transportation to hundreds of small vendors and tourists. Dubai abra is perhaps the cheapest form of transportation, and it is just AED 1 for a trip.
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Dubai Water Bus



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 of noise that may perhaps ruin your experience. They are available in Dubai Marina, Dubai Creek etc. and are recommended in order to experience a scenic background.

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Some Tips

1. The peak hours of traffic are from 7 AM-10 AM and from 4 PM -7 PM; avoid travelling during these times to avoid congested space and unnecessary delay in your schedule.

2. There are a set of rules to follow like no eating, no drinking, etc. that are displayed in all the above-mentioned forms of transportation. There will be heavy fines for those who are seen violating these rules. There are CCTV cameras installed in almost all forms of public transport, so be careful and obey the rules.

3. Walking is not recommended during the summers. Crossing the roads anywhere except on the zebra crossing are prohibited, and if caught, you'll have to pay a heavy fine. Many often resort to using a taxi just to cross the road!

4. 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 in any metro station.

5. 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.

6. There is heavy traffic during the weekends (Friday and Saturday in 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. 

7. 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.

8. The RTA ensures that these modes of transportation are on time, metros especially, they are almost always on time and sometimes even early.

The city has few of the most amazing landmarks. From the world famous shopping malls to record-shattering hotels and buildings, Dubai is the city which was built on dreams. So it is no surprise that the city is also one of the major tourist destinations. While the city and the experience it provides is expensive, you can attain an opportunity to visit these places by the extensive Public Transportation System run by the RTA. The Metros, the buses, and the taxis are the safest, convenient, and the cheapest ways to get around the city and visit the attractions. You can rent a Limousine or even a Helicopter to get around the city in style!

This post was published by Swati Trivedi