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Public Transportation in Dubai

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Public transportation in Dubai is fairly connected and operated by the RTA. Road & Transport Authority is a government entity involved with everything transportation in the emirate of Dubai. From the massive road infrastructure to the trams.

Finding route

Finding route is fairly simple if you know where you want to go. If you didn’t then you need to find yourself first. Excuse my silly humor. If we are to use online methods, you can use Google maps and S’hail app.

Using google maps for public transport is just like finding a route and clicking on the public transport icon.

Google maps screenshot of route from Old Souk to Dubai Mall Metro station
Old Souk to Dubai Mall metro station

S’hail app is quite resourceful for finding alternatives like a mix of public transport and ride-hailing/taxi options.

S'hail app screenshot for route from Old Souk to Dubai Mall metro Station

Nol & The Public Transport Network

 

Nol is a smart cash free system created by RTA which means you can use one card to pay across metro, taxis, busses, water bus, tram and several stores as well.

 

Card vs Ticket

The simplest difference between Nol Card and Nol Ticket is the number of uses, Nol ticket would serve inconvenient unless you’re looking for very few trips. Having a ticket would also mean standing in line to buy a new one every time you’re done using the previous one. A Nol ticket would cost you 2 AED (~0.5$) to issue plus the journey fee which would be 4,6 & 8.5 AED (for zone 1, 2 & 3). A Nol card on the other hand would cost you 6 AED (~1.75$) and journey fare would be 3, 5 & 7.5 AED (for zone 1, 2 & 3).

For convenience 1$ = 3.667 AED & 1€ = 4.02 AED

 

Where to Get the Nol Card

1) Metro Stations

 

Every metro station in Dubai will have 2 points where you can purchase the card. The self service kiosks and customer service station. The pricing will be the same, just observe which line will move quicker. The other point to note is on rare occasions the card payment option at self-serve kiosks may not work, in such an occasion head to the customer information section.

 

Dubai Metro station with a car leaving
Dubai Metro outer view
2) Tram Stations

Tram stations also have a self-service kiosk similar to that of metro stations with the option of payment by cash or card.

3) Outdoor Self-service Kiosks

Not available at every bus stop, but occasionally you’ll find self service kiosks next to RTA bus stops. They only accept cash as an option though (ATM’s can be found in hypermarkets, shopping malls and around the area. Feel free to ask a passerby, almost everyone speaks English). UAE being a majority expat country, English stands popular amongst the residents.

public transport rta buses dubai lined up at the bus station
RTA Public Transport Buses
4) Hypermarkets & Supermarkets

Variety of hypermarkets and supermarkets sell the Nol card as well. Some to name would be Carrefour, LuLu Hypermarket, LuLu Supermarket, Nesto. They would usually have a board as below in the picture.

 

How to use the Nol Card?

While these instruction may sound obvious, as a traveler in other countries, I’ve made silly mistakes and have come to realise a lot of countries work differently

1) TITO – Tap In Tap Out

It’s not an official term, just wanted to relate with my feeble accountancy knowledge of the term FIFO (First In First Out). In Dubai always remember that you need to tap when you get in and tap when you get out on the machine as seen in the picture below. Difference would be in the metro station where you have to tap while entering and have to tap while exiting. While at the tram station, you’ll find machines to tap after you enter the platform, these will simply look similar to the ones on the buses.

 

2) What is the minimum balance required to use the Nol card?

Always remember to keep a minimum balance of 7.5 AED while using public transport. As you could end up requiring to use the bus to get to the metro station or even to your destination. The fine for not tapping in or having adequate balance while using public transport starts at 200 AED (55$ approx.).

3) Topping up your Nol card

You can top up your card at the places where you can buy them as mentioned above.

  • Metro stations
  • Outdoor self-service kiosks
  • Convenient Stores
  • Online (This option can take up to 48 hours and would activate upon tapping to check in)

Understanding Dubai Metro Zones and Bus Zones

 

The Dubai public transport is divided into 7 zones. Don’t overthink it, you’re essentially priced for transport with 1 zone, 2 adjacent zones or more than 2 zones.

 

For more info always explore here

This article will be updated with more details. To go back to complete UAE guide click here or read about UAE’s history


This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual. We take no liability for the accuracy of the information and cannot be held liable for any third-party claims or losses of any damages.

This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual. We take no liability for the accuracy of the information and cannot be held liable for any third-party claims or losses of any damages.

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