Dubai cliché number 726: the city doesn’t have a good public transport network. Well, we’re here to explode that myth as yes; we do have an extensive, inter-connected network of abras, the Metro and the humble bus. We urge you to get on board. Here’s why.

Save money

An obvious one, but if – for example – you were to head from Mall of the Emirates to Deira, you’d be looking at well over Dhs150 on a return taxi. The bus meanwhile will cost you – drum roll please – just Dhs20. And not only will the 81 and 88 buses get you there and back for Dhs20, you can go anywhere on the bus that day for that fare. Any trip around Dubai costs between Dhs3 and Dhs15, which means more of your money can be spent on the important things in life like this magazine.  

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Catch up on your reading or music

If, like us, you have an idyllic view of commuting that involves the new David Mitchell book, Adele’s latest and people watching, then the bus is a sure-fire winner. The slower pace means you’re less likely to get travel sick, upping the pages per journey ratio, while bus routes will give you plenty of people watching/mind wandering time.

 They go everywhere

OK, so not literally everywhere, but they cover 87% of the urban area in Dubai, which is pretty impressive. There are 111 lines, 28 of which are feeder services for the Metro, and 11 inter-city lines that criss-cross the emirate. 

They’re not like buses back home

There are 170 double deckers (our favourite), 945 normal buses and 346 articulated people carriers across the city, and none of them have gangs of youths playing grime (it’s a music genre, apparently) loudly through their iPhone speakers while discussing who snogged who last night. They’re air conditioned (as are 551 of the bus stops), clean and safe and run from 4.25am to just past 1am. And the RTA plans to install free WiFi at 100 bus stops around town, plus small cafés for your morning caffeine hit and smart kiosks for paying bills and buying NOL cards. There’s also the Al Freej bus that runs from Barsha to Jumeirah Village Circle: it has flexible pick up and drop off points (designed particularly for elderly and disabled passengers):

It’s really easy

The RTA website – – is alarmingly pain-free to use. There’s a comprehensive Journey Planner section, an interactive Maps section and also a full run down on the timings (and if they’re on time as usual). 

Our readers love them already

Louise Halmkan says “8, 12, 81, 88, 93, X28, F30, F31, F33 – not secret coding but the daily bus routes that serve as my arteries to get me from location to location be it metro stations, client homes, beaches, or parks around Dubai for my life as a personal fitness trainer. I have lived in various cities around the world and the bus service here ranks up there with the best. It’s efficient, safe, cheap and reliable. It also has a very informative online application called Wojhati. I think of it as a luxury having the journey time to have peace and quiet to read. Bus journeys for me are not confined to my working week. Quite often friends and I catch the bus to take us to our favourite haunts the other side of Dubai, spending the journey chatting face to face rather than tapping onto an impersonal screen.”

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It’s Metro-friendly

Dubai Metro to get art makeover

As well as having a direct link between most Metro stations and the bus lines, your NOL card is your ticket to travel all over the UAE and available in four ranges. Buses begin at 4.25am and finish at 1am, depending on the station. Gold costs Dhs25, and comes with Dhs19 credit, can be loaded with up to Dhs5,000 credit and gets you access to the Gold Glass Cabins on the Metro and Tram. Silver costs the same and has the same credit limit, and like Gold can be topped up online, at any ticket office, vending machine or sales agent. Blue is a most customised option: the smart card comes with your own photo, is valid for 5 years and will allow you 30 days unlimited travel, while if the card is lost or stolen, the balance will not be affected. And finally, there’s the Red ticket, that’s a temporary paper ticket that can be used for up to 10 journeys and costs Dhs4 with Dhs2 balance included.

The Sky Bus

Not a Back To The Future creation, sadly, but a highly practical shuttle service that links up dozens of hotels with the three Dubai airport terminals. It covers JBR, DIC, Tecom and nine other areas, and you even get free snacks on board.

The rules on the bus

– Remember to have your Smart Card ready for inspection during the ride.

– The front three rows of seats are reserved for female passengers.

– Eating, drinking or smoking is not permitted on the bus.

– Bulky luggage, hazardous materials, pets and animals are not allowed on the bus.

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