Public Transport in Dubai; How to Get Around

It is generally more practical to take public transport while in Dubai to reach a destination, as the emirate is really not a walking city. Tourists and locals alike have easy-to-use public transportation options thanks to Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), which is responsible for planning and specifying the requirements of transport, roads & traffic in the Emirate and is providing an effective and integrated transport system.

RTA runs an advanced transport network for the people of Dubai which has been high on the government’s agenda, and that continues to raise the satisfaction and happiness of commuters. Choose to explore the Emirate with ease by bus, metro or tram.

  • Dubai Bus, a service network covering 87% of the urban area in the Emirate, is a mobility service designed in such a way that makes transit easily accessible. The buses have a frequency that varies from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the day, the ride, etc. Passengers can pay through a rechargeable card or single ticket that cannot be bought onboard but at the station. Different types of cards are available (Red, Azure, Silver and Gold) giving passengers different options.
  • Dubai Subway/Metro, a modern and fully automated rail system with red and green lines, provides a convenient means of travel with two lines (green) that run in the old part of the city; the other path (a red line) goes along a ridge parallel to the sea and to the E11 highway (the Sheikh Zayed Road). The subway also arrives at the airport, both at terminal 1 (international airlines) and at terminal 3 (dedicated to Emirates flights). Inaugurated in 09/09/09 and designed by an Italian company, it is fully automated (no driver!) but, unfortunately, it is often far from landmarks, so tourist are normally required to switch to other means of transportation especially when far from the center.
  • Dubai Tram, a network, covering a distance of 10.6 Km with 11 stations distributed over the population congested areas, and that is limited to the area of ​​Dubai Marina.

All three of RTA public transports make trips within the Emirate stress-free. There are various interchange stations between the tram (which also arrives at JBR, then the beachfront area) and the metro (which remains more interior). The tram can be comparable in terms of frequency of runs and speed as the metro.

RTA Nol Cards are the new way to travel around Dubai on Metro, Buses, Water Buses, the Tram as well as pay for Parking. With the Nol Card, all you need to do is ‘touch & go’, which means “you simply tap your card on the card reader at the entry and exit gates of Metro and Waterbus stations; [or] at the entrance of every RTA Bus and on all RTA parking meters.”

Other options:

  • Dubai Taxi services is also a great alternative and are available 24/7. Yes, taxis are operated around the clock, 7 days a week including public and religious holidays. Getting around by taxi is rather cheap, but if travelling great distances or accumulating various rides during the day, the cost can add up. Note: Women traveling alone can choose to take a taxi reserved for them. They are easily recognizable as they have a pink canopy and are operated by women.
  • Dubai Monorail connecting the mainland with Palm Jumeirah (at the moment only the stations at the beginning of La Palma are open, the one at the half and the one at Atlantis).
  • Dubai Trolley in the Emirate Downtown area is not to be overlooked as a suitable means of transport in the province.
  • Dubai Water Taxis, the least economic way to move in Emirate with high fares and lack of stops; for that reason, this makes it an unattractive vehicle for locals but still an attractive options for tourists. ‘Abra’ (small boats), instead,  shuttle between the two sides of the Creek Bay at a flat rate of 1 AED per person; Abra Creek Crossing, a journey that only takes about 5 minutes, runs every few minutes throughout the entire day across four stations. About 150 abras travel between Deira and Bur Dubai, transporting about 20 passengers each.  

As one can see, Getting Around in Dubai is easy with many transportation options for exploring this marvelous city. Here’s an idea of the costs for a route from Dubai Marina to the airport. A one-way subway ticket from Dubai Marina to Airport Terminal 3 in Silver Class is AED 10.50. A taxi ride from Dubai Marina to Terminal 3 would cost approximately 100 AEDs. If you take the taxi from the airport, consider a surcharge of 20 AED.

Consider downloading these must-have RTA apps to help you plan a trip:

  • The RTA Public Transport APP allows commuters using Dubai’s public transportation to save time. This app features include NOL card top-up.
  • The RTA Dubai App allows users to book a Taxi via the Taxi booking number. Another feature is the NOL balance inquiry, top up and view past transactions as well as Trip history.

For other ‘Smart Applications for Public Transport users’ be sure to check out the RTA website (

Remember: You can get more information from the RTA Travel Information Center by calling (800 90 90 / Overseas callers 24/7: +971 4 605 1414 / Tel: +971 4 284 4444) or e-mailing:

Public Transport in Dubai; How to Get Around
Public Transport in Dubai; How to Get Around

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