Dubai: If using the public bus is your preferred mode of transport because it’s convenient, affordable and environmentally friendly, the easiest way to pay for your bus fare is through a bus card.
While a regular bus ticket can only be used for a single trip, a smart card allows you to travel to multiple locations by simply scanning your card when you hop on and off a bus.
In the UAE, five Emirates offer bus cards: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, and Ras Al Khaimah.
Abu Dhabi – Hafilat card
In Abu Dhabi, the most convenient way to pay for your bus fares is through the Hafilat card. To pay for the trip, you scan the card on payment machines when you get on or off the bus. These smart cards automatically calculate how much the ride costs, and the amount is deducted from the balance on your card.
The Hafilat bus card is issued by Abu Dhabi’s official transport authority, the Intergrated Transport Centre (ITC).
How much does a trip cost?
The trip is charged based on whether you are travelling within Abu Dhabi city, or from various suburbs, like Madinat Zayed or Musaffah, to the main city area. Charges for intercity trips are slightly higher.
• Local trips (within Abu Dhabi city): Dh2
• Regional trips (from suburbs): Dh2 + Dh0.05 per kilometre.
• Intercity trips (between Emirates): Dh10 + Dh0.1 per kilometre.
Types of Hafilat card
There are five different types of Hafilat cards and cost of the card depends on the category you fall under:
1. Contactless Smart Card (CSC) Anonymous, which costs Dh10.
2. Contactless Smart Card (CSC) Personalised, which costs Dh10.
3. Contactless Smart Card (CSC) Senior Citizen, which costs Dh5.
4. Contactless Smart Card (CSC) for People of Determination, which costs Dh5.
5. Contactless Smart Card (CSC) for students, which costs Dh5.
All these cards are valid for five years.
Once you buy the card, you will have to add a recharge amount to the card.
How to register for a Hafilat card
If you are a first time user, you need to visit the official website for Hafilat cards – www.hafilat.darb.ae . Through this website you will be able to register for the card by providing your personal information, your address and upload a passport sized photo of yourself to the application form online.
After completing the online application form, you can collect the Hafilat card from a bus terminal in Abu Dhabi. Alternatively, you can apply for a Hafilat bus card at bus stations with ticket machines or a ticket counter.
For a step-by-step guide on how to register and recharge a Hafilat card, click here.
Dubai – Nol card
In Dubai, you can use the bus, Metro, tram, taxi, ferry and even pay for public parking through the Nol card, which is a public transportation card issued by Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Authority (RTA).
Three types of Nol Cards
1. Nol Silver card
For a one-time payment of Dh25 (with Dh19 that can be spent on services), the silver card is valid for five years. You do not need to provide any identification documents to apply for a silver card.
2. Nol Gold card
The Gold card allows users the ability to access the Gold Class cabins on Dubai Metro and Dubai Tram. To get the card, you need to pay Dh25 (with Dh19 that can be spent on services). It is also valid for five years and can be used on all transport services and other payments like the Nol Silver card.
You do not need to provide any documents to apply for the Gold card.
3. Nol Blue card
This is a personalised card which requires activation and is linked to your Emirates ID. You need to provide your photograph and Emirates ID at the Metro ticket office and pay Dh70 for the card, with Dh20 that can be spent on services. You can also apply for the card through the RTA website – www.rta.ae
If you are a student, senior citizen, or a Person of Determination, you can get discounts on your bus or Metro fares if you apply for a blue card.
Additionally, if your blue Nol card is lost or stolen, you can always recover the balance by reapplying for the card.
How much does a trip cost?
The RTA pricing system has integrated the bus, Metro and tram rides and only considers how far you have travelled during a trip, regardless of which mode you have used.
The price is calculated based on how many ‘zones’ you have crossed. The RTA has divided its public transport network into seven zones. So, you could switch from a Metro trip to a bus and then a tram and if you are in the same zone, it will be considered as a single trip. Just make sure the time taken to use the next mode of transport is less than 30 minutes. Any trips taken after 30 minutes, even if within the same zone, will be charged as a separate trip.
To learn more about Nol cards, read our guide here.
How do I apply for a Nol Card?
Depending on which card you want to get, you can apply for the Nol card at any Metro ticket station, at a ticket vending machine or online on rta.ae.
Sharjah – Sayer card
In Sharjah, you can apply for the ‘Sayer card’, which is offered by Sharjah Roads and Transport Authority (SRTA) and has two categories:
1. Sayer Discount Card
This can be purchased for either Dh45 or Dh90, along with a one-time payment of Dh5. The card is valid for five years.
2. Sayer Subscription Card
The Sayer Subscription Card can be purchased for Dh225, and is valid for five years. The subscription card offers unlimited travel valid for 30 days, and can be recharged monthly for Dh225.
How much does a trip cost?
Sayer Discount Card has a 25 per cent discount, and costs Dh6 for travel within Sharjah on public buses, compared to a cash ticket which will cost at least Dh8.
How do I get a Sayer card?
You can purchase and recharge Sayer cards when you get on the public buses (by asking the driver for the card or for a recharge) or by visiting the payment counter at the Al Jubail Bus Station. To know more, click here.
Ajman – Masaar card
In Ajman, you can use the Masaar bus card, you can apply for the card online through Ajman Transport Authority’s official website – ta.gov.ae, or at Ajman’s central ‘Al Musalla bus station’ on Sheikh Abdullah Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi Street.
However, in both the situations, you will need to visit the central bus station to make the payment for the card and receive it.
To know more about how you can apply for the card, read our article here.
Cost of the Masaar Card
When you are signing up for the card, you will need to make a payment of Dh25, in which you will get Dh20 as balance to use on the card.
For school and university students studying in Ajman, there is a 30 per cent of discount on bus fares.
Cost of a bus trip in Ajman
For bus passengers who hold a Masaar Card, the bus fare will be relatively cheaper compared to those who are non-Masaar card holders.
• From Dh3 per passenger for Masaar Card holders
• From Dh5 for non-Masaar Card holders
Ras Al Khaimah – E-Saqr card
Recently, Ras Al Khaimah Transportation Authority (RAKTA) introduced ‘E-Saqr’ bus cards, which come in three categories:
1. Blue card: The cost of buying the blue card is Dh30, in which you get a balance of Dh20.
2. Silver card: This card is for university and school students, senior citizens and residents over the age of 60. The silver card costs Dh20, in which you get a balance of Dh10.
Students and senior citizens and residents get 50 per cent off on bus fares.
3. Gold card: is for People of Determination and is free of cost. However, you will need to pay for the trip you take using the card.
The cost of a bus trip within Ras Al Khaimah ranges from Dh5 to Dh10, depending on the route you take.
You can buy the bus card at the Al Hamra Bus Station, which is the main bus station in Ras Al Khaimah, located in the Al Dhait area.
To know more about the E-Saqr bus card, click here.