Dubai, as a tourist destination and place to live, is world renowned for many reasons: its high standard of living, an extravagant lifestyle punctuated by incredible architecture, a plethora of entertainment options for individuals and families, its wonderful, warm climate year round, as well as pristine stretches of beaches.
Not to be left out are the world famous shopping malls, featuring the best boutiques and brands from all across the globe – including Asia, America, and Europe. Last but not least is Dubai’s love affair with cars. Residents (or even visitors) in Dubai can fulfill their most outrageous desire for owning the latest models of the fastest and most exotic cars in the world.
Subsidized fuel prices, as well as relatively cheaper car prices and maintenance, mean that people who live in or visit Dubai can indulge in exotic models of cars that they wouldn’t dream of in their home countries.
Although driving is the most convenient way of getting around Dubai, the government has vastly improved the public transport system over the last decade, and continues to invest in and expand the public transport network within the emirate.
Although Dubai is not best known for its connectivity, there are many options for public transport, particularly if you have time and want to experience Dubai from a unique vantage point.
9 Key Facts About Public Transport in Dubai
If you are keen on navigating the city without driving your own vehicle, the city does have a reasonable choice of public transport that provides access to every part of the metropolitan area. The primary forms of public transport are the Dubai Metro, taxis, buses, and water taxis, also known as abras. Below are 9 key facts about public transport in Dubai:
- Dubai Metro – The Dubai Metro is a state-of-the-art, driverless, fully automated rail system that is clean, fast, and efficient. Although it is not very extensive, there are planned extensions to the system, and it does connect to the Dubai Airport – and some of the major tourist destinations such as the Mall of the Emirates and the Burj Khalifa.The red and green lines are currently operational, with the RTA planning three more lines. There is no eating or drinking allowed on the metro and offenders can incur heavy fines. Detailed information about stations, fares, and timings – as well as the latest updates on the Metro system – are available on the Dubai Metro website.
- Taxis – Compared to other similar metropolitan cities, taxis in Dubai are relatively cheap, well maintained, and strictly regulated by the Dubai Road and Transport Authority (RTA). All taxis are metered so there is no ambiguity in paying for your trip. There are many different taxi companies in Dubai, and most of the drivers are courteous and speak basic English.The RTA has also introduced a Smart Taxi App, which is very convenient, allowing a person to book the nearest taxi from their smart phones based on their location. The app is capable of instantly pinpointing a person’s location, and is great for booking a taxi even if you don’t know exactly where you are.The app is available for both Android as well as iOS devices.
- Buses – Dubai’s network of buses is quite extensive and buses are a great connection point from the metro to your destination. They are very affordable, accept Nol cards as a form of payment, and can get you to destinations that the Metro does not reach – such as Jumeirah Beach.Buses can also take you between emirates, which the Metro system is not currently designed to do, and is an affordable way to travel if you are on a budget. To plan your journey using one or more of Dubai’s extensive bus fleet, click here.
- Abras – Dubai’s quaint mix of new and old is nowhere more evident than in its simple, wooden water taxis that cruise along the 10-meter Creek, transporting people across.These quaint aquatic taxis, also known as abras, are a great way to avoid traffic build-up, are amongst the cheapest forms of public transport, and are very quick, taking between 5-10 minutes to get to the other side – whereas other means of crossing the Creek by road (using the Shindagha tunnel, Garhoud, or Maktoum bridge) can take up to an hour!Abras may be manual (steered by rowing) or can be motorized. The RTA website has a great deal of information on both types of abras.
- Water taxis – Whereas the abra is confined to navigating the Creek, Dubai’s relatively new fleet of water taxis, operated by the RTA, are able to navigate the waters of the Arabian Gulf.The taxis are very sleek and modern looking, and are a new concept by the RTA to try and ease the daily congestion on Dubai’s most travelled roads. The taxis are equipped with all modern facilities, conform to the safety requirements of the RTA, and can travel across the waters of the Arabian Gulf at speeds of up to 25 knots.For fares and booking information, click here.
- Nol cards – In a bid to make public transport more efficient and convenient for the public, the RTA introduced the Nol card, which is a smart card that can be used on the various RTA public transport forms such as buses, trams, water buses, and the metro system.The Nol card has several advantages, the biggest being that there is no need to carry around cash to pay for transport – just top up your card and use it to pay for any of a variety of public transport systems. There are four different types of cards with various value-added services.More information on the card is available on its website.
- Dubai Ferry – The Dubai Ferry is as much a tourist thing to do as it is a public transport system, allowing visitors and residents to view the city from the sea and get a glimpse of some of Dubai’s iconic buildings, such as the Burj Al Arab and the Palm Jumeirah with the majestic Atlantis Hotel.Ferry timings change continually, so click here for a more thorough check. The ferry has comfortable seating, and will only run if there is a minimum of 10 people on board. For more detailed information click here.
- Dubai Tram – The long awaited tram was launched in November of 2014, and is a rail system that is part of a modern integrated public transport system that provides efficient and quick access to the densely populated areas of Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai Marina, and the business areas along Al Sufouh street.The tram connects to the Metro Station as well as the Palm Monorail. For more information about the tram, including fares and timetables, click here.
- Palm Jumeirah Monorail – The Palm Monorail is a privately owned transport system designed to take tourists or residents from one end of the Palm to the other. It connects from the gateway station at the entrance to the Palm to the Atlantis Hotel at the far end.The monorail gives travelers a great view of the Palm and is linked to the Dubai Tram system. It is not currently linked to the Dubai Metro, but plans for this are being considered. For more information about stations, fares and timings, click here.