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Public Transportation in Dubai

10 September 2015

Transportation in Dubai is a harmonious existence of tradition and modernity. People use various modes of transportation here. On the one side there are people still using traditional modes of transportation like the camels and abras (small motorboats) for getting across places like Bur Dubai to Deira, while on the other, there are the taxis and the Metro.


The Public Bus Transport system in Dubai System is large and advanced, and is operated and managed by the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA). Dubai's RTA regulates transportation within the city, and is the main municipal Traffic solution provider. Any transportation information, or any RTA related information, can be obtained by visiting www.rta.ae

The bus system has more than 193 routes on weekdays and transports about 30million people on weekly basis. The public bus system has 59 unique routes and transports more than 200,000 people every week. The bus network, however, is largely used by the lower income groups, and there is not much being done to attract the higher income earners. Therefore, the traffic congestion continues in Dubai, which has now grown to be a major problem.

The bus fleet is made of top quality custom-built buses that are equipped with individual seats, air-conditioning, electronically operated destination display system, and computerized fare equipment system. Majority of the buses have a carrying capacity of 51 seats, and 10 standing passengers. The bus fleet is maintained at two hi-tech bus depots at Al Awir and Al Qusais.

The bus transport infrastructure comprises more than 9 bus stations, 153 wayside passenger shelters, over 1600 bus stops, and point timetables at 500 busy bus stops.

Bus fares are paid by purchasing a NoI card before getting onto the bus. They are available at Dubai Metro Stations, several other bus stations, and RTA outlets. Dubai is divided into five zones and the bus fares vary from one zone to another, depending on the destination. The bus services in Dubai connect residential, industrial and business districts.

Public Transportation Dubai


Dubai's taxi system is one of the most frequently used and most popular means of public transport. Taxis are one of the fastest ways of getting around the city, especially to places that are not well-connected by the metro. There are both government-operated and private cab companies. The Dubai Transport Corporation operates cream-coloured taxis. Among the private cab companies are the Cars Taxi, Metro Taxi, and National Taxis. Taxis are available at all public places in Dubai, or you may book in advance for a taxi.

The taxi service can be availed on the telephone No. 04-2080808 (both enquiry and reservation). There is also the online booking and reservation facility available, and women who feel unsafe or uncomfortable with male drivers can book the pink taxis which has female drivers. Deira is the most popular taxi stand.

Registered taxis have a standard Taxi sign on the roof and an easy to read meter on the dash board.

The Metro

The Metro is considered to be the modern and comfortable way of commutation in Dubai. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has been operating two different metro lines in Dubai, the green line and the red line. These lines take very different routes and stop at various destinations, offering people a better alternative to car. The Green line runs from Rashidiya to the main city centre, and the Red Line from the airport to Jebel Ali.

There are special cabins meant for women and children, apart from a gold class and silver class. The passengers are required to pay and purchase a ticket, the NoI card. The NoI card comes in four categories – red for single journey, blue for personalized use, apart from silver and gold. The website http://wojhati.rta.ae/ helps in planning your route/journey, by taking not only the Dubai Metro, but also other options of public transport into the system.

There is currently the $3.89bn worth Dubai Metro projects under construction, which will be fully operational by 2012. The construction contract for the project was given to Dubai Rapid Link (DURL), a group lead by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The other Japanese companies involved in the project are Obayashi, Kajima, and Yapi Merkezi.

The Dubai Metro will have 70kms of track covering 43 stations. On completion of the project, there will be trains running every 90 seconds. The Metro is hoped to ease congestion on Dubai’s road network immensely and meet transportation demands of its growing population.


The first phase of Dubai’s latest transport scheme, involves the world’s first tram that runs with ground power, feeding on the entire line, without the requirement of electrical overhead wires, and is due for completion by 2014.

The interior design of the tram has already been approved by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai. The first phase of the network will stretch across 10.7kms and cost Dh.4bn.

Al Sufouh Tram System that service the first phase of Dubai’s latest transport scheme, will service nearly 220,000 commuters living in or near the Al Sufouh area of Dubai. The 14km long route that follows the Al Safouh Road, will link Madinat Jumeirah and the Mall of Emirates with Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence.

It is the first of the modern application of trams in the Gulf region, being constructed in two phases. As of April 2011, the project was only 30percent complete, and has been thereafter, fast tracked by the RTA for completion by 2014.

Phase-one of the project, involves laying track from Dubai Marina to Mall of Emirates, stretching 9.5kms. On completion, Al Safouh will be the world's first open tramway to have all stops aligned with platform screen doors, with full air-conditioning system, adding to customer appeal by regularly maintaining temperatures.

The Downtown Dubai Tramway is a tram system in Downtown Dubai. The project, worth Dh.500mn, on completion, will be the first of its kind in Dubai. It will include synchronized services in a single tram transportation system. The total length of the Tramway will be 4.6kms.

The tramway has been divided into two phases. The phase one includes twin track express link shuttle service line, operating between Burj place interchange station involving the Dubai Metro and Dubai Mall.

The second phase will include full loops, single track mono directional, clock-wise commuter service operating from and to the Burj Place interchange station with Dubai Metro.

The line section from Burj Place to Burj Khalifa Boulevard will be supported on a viaduct structure on the bridges spanning two major roads. The express link shuttle service will be a full-day, automated, driverless shuttle.

Water Taxis and Abras

Abras: Abras, the traditional wooden boats with motors, are used to travel on water or to cross the creek. Abras are one of the traditional and oldest means of transportation in the UAE. Abra Service is quite common in Dubai, and is a favourite among tourists. Apart from enabling to cross the fascinating Dubai Creek, it is also an indication of the past of Dubai. There are at least 150 abras, crossing the Creek’s water in one day. The major routes are between abra stations of Deira Old Souk and Bur Dubai, and Dubai Old Souk and Sabakha.

There are two types of Abras - the rowing abra and the motorized abra. The motorized abra operates along the creek at present. The fare could range from Dh.1 per passenger to Dh.100 for an hour or Dh.30 for non-motorized abras. The payment is made to the driver in cash.

Water Bus: The Waterbus is an advanced Abra service offering further comfort and luxury to commuters. Marine Transport Agency, a part of Road and Transportation Agency, implemented the Dubai Water Bus System. The Water Bus began its service on Dubai Creek from July 2007. There are four different routes for commuters, and the fare is paid by cash or NoI card.

Water Taxis: Dubai launched its water taxi service, a marine transit mode featuring luxury and privacy, in July 2010. Water Taxis can transport nearly 11 passengers and are equipped with access to ramp, LCD screens, air-conditioned cabins, and such other luxuries. However, unlike the abras and water buses, they can leave the creek and move along the waters of the gulf.

Water taxis connect several locations, including Deira Old Souq, and Jebel Ali Hotel and Spa. They are operational from 10am to 10pm for fares ranging from Dh.50 to Dh.570. Passengers are required to make advance booking to ride with the water taxi, by calling RTA, or through their hotel service staff.

For booking, dial the toll-free number 8009090, and the water taxi will come to the station in your nearest location to ferry you across the Dubai Creek, and waterways that you may wish.

Air Travel

With modernization, Air Travel has grown to be another preferred mode of transportation in Dubai. The emirate is focusing on investing heavily in developing the reach of its airline, Emirate. Dubai aims to develop its air transportation ability such that passengers from any city can fly directly to Dubai.

The Dubai International Airport is one of the fastest and busiest growing airports in the world. It is the hub for Emirates and FlyDubai, and has a reputed, large duty-free shopping centre. The airport has bagged several awards for its excellence in design and services. A new terminal, recently unveiled by the airport, dedicated to Emirates Airline has been opened, and this has doubled the capacity of the airport.

Al Maktoum International Airport, a major airport in Jebel Ali, Dubai, currently under construction is likely to be the largest airport in the world in terms of freight handled moving up to 12 million tonnes a year, and with capacity to handle five million passengers a year during its first phase of construction.

The airport will be fully built-out and operational by 2017, although this date may be extended further, given, the impact of global financial crisis. The airport is the biggest section of Dubai World Central. When fully built, it will be an airport with 120million passenger/year capacity. The airport will complement the Dubai International Airport, located 40kms away.

Robin Vinod

Writer/blogger who writes on topics such as travel, real estate, employment and everyday life on GCC countries

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