Dubai: If using the public bus is your preferred mode of transport as it is convenient, affordable and environmentally friendly, the easiest way to pay for your bus journey is with a bus pass.
While a regular bus ticket can only be used for one trip, a smart card allows you to travel to multiple locations by simply scanning your card when getting on and off a bus.
In the United Arab Emirates, 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 journeys is with the Hafilat card. To pay for the journey, you scan the card on the payment machines when you get on or off the bus. These smart cards automatically calculate the cost of the trip and the amount is deducted from your card balance.
The Hafilat Bus Card is issued by Abu Dhabi’s official transport authority, the Intergrated Transport Center (ITC).
How much does a trip cost?
The trip is charged depending on whether you are traveling within Abu Dhabi city or from various suburbs, such as Madinat Zayed or Musaffah, to the main city area. Charges for long distance journeys are slightly higher.
• Local journeys (in the city of Abu Dhabi): 2 Dh
• Regional journeys (from the suburbs): 2 Dh + 0.05 Dh per kilometer.
• Interurban journeys (between Emirates): 10 Dh + 0.1 Dh per kilometer.
Hafilat Card Types
There are five different types of Hafilat cards and the cost of the card depends on which category you belong to:
1. Anonymous contactless smart card (CSC), which costs 10 Dh.
2. Personalized contactless smart card (CSC), which costs 10 Dh.
3. Senior Citizen Contactless Smart Card (CSC), which costs Dh5.
4. Contactless smart card (CSC) for specific people, which costs 5 Dh.
5. Contactless smart card (CSC) for students, which costs Dh5.
All of these cards are valid for five years.
Once you have purchased the card, you will need to add a top-up amount to the card.
How to register for a Hafilat card
If you are a first time user, you should visit the official Hafilat Maps website – www.hafilat.darb.ae. Through this website, you will be able to apply for the card by providing your personal information, address and uploading a passport size photo of yourself in the online application form.
After completing the online application form, you can collect the Hafilat card at any bus terminal in Abu Dhabi. Alternatively, you can apply for a Hafilat bus card at bus stations with ticket machines or a ticket office.
For a step-by-step guide on how to register and top up a Hafilat card, click here.
Dubai – Christmas card
In Dubai, you can use the bus, metro, tram, taxi, ferry and even pay for public parking with the Nol card, which is a public transport card issued by the Roads and Transportation Authority (RTA) of Dubai.
Three types of Christmas Cards
For a one-time payment of Dh25 (with Dh19 available to be spent on services), the Silver card is valid for five years. You do not need to provide ID to apply for a Silver card.
The Gold card allows users to access Gold Class cabins on the Dubai Metro and Tram. To get the card, you have 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 such as the Nol Silver card.
You do not need to provide any documents to apply for the Gold Card.
This is a personalized card that requires activation and is linked to your Emirates ID. You must provide your photo and Emirates ID card at the metro ticket office and pay Dh70 for the card, with Dh20 can be spent on services. You can also apply for the card via the RTA website – www.rta.ae
If you are a student, a senior or a determined person, you can get reductions on your bus or metro tickets if you request a credit card.
In addition, if your Nol blue card is lost or stolen, you can always recover the balance by requesting the card again.
How much does a trip cost?
The RTA pricing system has integrated bus, metro and tram journeys and only takes into account the distance you traveled during a journey, regardless of the mode you used.
The price is calculated according to the number of “zones” crossed. The RTA has divided its public transport network into seven zones. So you can go from a metro ride to a bus to a tram and if you are in the same area, it will be considered a single trip. Just make sure the time to use the next mode of transportation is less than 30 minutes. Any ride after 30 minutes, even if in the same area, will be charged as a separate ride.
To learn more about Christmas cards, read our guide here.
How can I apply for a Nol Card?
Depending on the card you want to get, you can apply for the Nol card at any metro station, at a ticket machine or online at rta.ae.
Sharjah – Sayer Map
In Sharjah, you can apply for the “Sayer Card”, which is offered by the Sharjah Roads and Transport Authority (SRTA) and has two categories:
1. Sayer discount card
This can be purchased for 45 Dh or 90 Dh, with a one-time payment of 5 Dh. The card is valid for five years.
2. Sayer Subscription Card
The Sayer subscription card can be purchased for 225 Dh and is valid for five years. The subscription card offers unlimited travel valid for 30 days, and can be recharged monthly for 225 Dh.
How much does a trip cost?
The Sayer discount card offers a 25% discount and costs Dh6 to travel in 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 boarding public buses (by asking the driver for the card or for a recharge) or by going to the payment counter at the Al Jubail bus station. To learn more, click here.
In Ajman, you can use the Masaar Bus Card, you can apply for the card online at the official website of the Ajman Transport Authority – ta.gov.ae, or at the central “Al Musalla Bus Station” in Ajman. ‘Ajman on Sheikh Abdullah Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi Street.
However, in both cases, you will have to go to the central bus station to make the payment for the card and receive it.
To find out more about how to apply for a card, read our article here.
Masaar card cost
When you sign up for the card, you will need to make a payment of Dh25, in which you will get Dh20 as the balance to use on the card.
For school and university students studying in Ajman, there is a 30% discount on bus fares.
Cost of a bus ride in Ajman
For bus passengers who hold a Masaar card, the bus fare will be relatively cheaper compared to those who do not hold a Masaar card.
• From 3 Dh per passenger for Masaar card holders
• From 5 Dh for non-holders of the Masaar card
Ras Al Khaimah – E-Saqr Card
Recently, Ras Al Khaimah Transportation Authority (RAKTA) introduced “E-Saqr” bus cards, which fall into three categories:
1. Credit card: The cost of buying the credit card is 30 Dh, in which you get a balance of 20 Dh.
2. Silver Card: This card is for university and school students, senior citizens and residents over 60 years of age. The Silver card costs 20 Dh, on which you get a balance of 10 Dh.
Students, seniors and residents get 50% off bus fares.
3. Gold card: is intended for specific people and is free. However, you will have to pay for the trip you take with the card.
The cost of a bus ride in Ras Al Khaimah ranges from Dh5 to Dh10, depending on the route you take.
You can buy the bus pass at Al Hamra bus station which is the main bus station in Ras Al Khaimah, located in Al Dhait district.
To learn more about the E-Saqr bus card, click here.