The public bus system is rarely used by Western expats, due to the convenience of taxis. The service is extremely cheap, but routes can be convoluted, journey times lengthy and timings erratic. Timetables, prices and route maps are available from the main bus stations of Al Ghubaiba in Bur Dubai (04 342 11130) and by the gold souk in Deira (04 227 3840). You can also call the main 24/7 information line (800 9090) or view them online at www.rta.ae.
You pay cash to catch an inter emirate bus (Dubai to Abu Dhabi for example). However, should you brave a city bus trip, you will need to get a “Nol” card, (much like an Oyster card). These are available at Spinneys and Carrefour supermarkets and metro stations and cost Dhs20, of which Dhs14 is fare money. You need to touch your card on an automated reader upon boarding and disembarking the bus, or you will pay the maximum fare. Journeys are cheap, starting at Dhs1.80. You can top up your “Nol” card with cash only (a credit card facility will be introduced) at any metro station, up to an amount of Dhs500.
Buses are clean and modern, eating, drinking and smoking are not allowed on board, and the front three rows of seats are reserved for women. The fleet is equipped with air-conditioning, electronically operated destination display systems and computerized fare equipment. There are nine bus stations, scattered around the city, more than1,860 bus stops, 1,302 wayside passenger shelters and point timetables at 500 busy bus stops. All bus stops are request stops.