Guide to Traveling Dubai Metro Trains

Overview
Dubai Metro is a railway network in Dubai run by the Roads and Transport Authority that operates 49 stations across two lines, with three more lines proposed. It was launched on September 9, 2009 at 9:09:09pm. The trains are fully automated and driverless — the red line at 52.1 kilometres (32.4 mi), remains the world’s longest driverless single metro line.

Station Information

  • As of Feb 2018, there are 49 stations (29 in red line and 20 in green line).
  • Dubai Metro has daily ridership at a little over 350,000 as of 2017.
  • The entire network has length of 74.6 kilometers (46.4 miles)
  • Stations are named after brands or companies rather than their locations. For around AED40 million, a station can be named after an approved brand or firm within a 10-year period.
  • Just like many other railway networks in the world, Dubai Metro is not expected to be a profit-making project, hence the need to raise funds such as station naming fees to augment government subsidy.

Fares
Fixed fares at Dubao Metro are determined by tiers and zones of travel. The cheapest single-journey travel costs AED3 for journeys within the same zone and a distance of not more than 3 kilometers. Once fare reaches AED 14 for the day, passengers using card payment will enjoy free travel for the rest of the day.

Single journey tickets and Nol cards are used as payment methods. Holders of Nol cards that contain more than the minimum required fare credit are allowed for check in. Upon check out, fares are automatically deducted based on zones the passenger has traveled.

  • Tier 1 Within 1 zone or less than 3 zones, crossing 2 zones
  • Tier 2 Starts in 1 zone and ends in neighboring zone
  • Tier 3 Crosses 3 or more zones

Nol Card
A Nol Card (Nol is Arabic for fare) is a contactless smartcard the size of credit card that stores credit used on buses and trains to pay for fares. Passengers tap these cards on designated electronic gates on metro stations or payment terminals on buses.

Prepaid Nol cards can be bought at metro stations and bus terminals and can be topped up online, ticketing booths or terminals at metro stations. By using Nol cards, passengers can enjoy cheaper fares than paper ticket for single-journey travels. As cash will not be accepted for payment to use Metro, buses and water buses, use of Nol Card becomes a necessity when taking these modes of transport.

For short term visitors, unlimited one-day trip and monthly passes are also available with the Nol Red Tickets. The Blue Nol Card offers concessions for students, UAE national senior citizen and the disabled.

Different Nol card passes are available.

  • 1 Day Pass
  • 7 Day Pass
  • 30 Day Pass
  • 90 Day Pass
  • 365 Day Pass

Benefits of using Nol Card

  • You can travel around Dubai and pay for parking using a single card.
  • You no longer need to carry cash or worry about preparing exact fare.
  • You will enjoy low cost fares and flexible transfers across different modes of transport
  • Depending on your eligibility (local student, senior citizen or disabled passenger), you can enjoy having special fares for different concession types of Nol blue card

Carriages
Metro carriages employ five-car trains that will accommodate 643 passengers. It is designed to carry up to 897 passengers at peak capacity and has structural design for up to 1,150 passengers. In addition to common carriages, there are

  • Women and children carriages. Intended for female and accompanying young passengers, this car is located on one end of the carriage.
  • Gold Class carriages. On the other edge of the train are Gold Class carriages intended to offer comfort to passengers. Valid only for gold Nol card holders.

Offenses and Fines
In order to maintain a pleasant journey for passengers, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority has imposed fines for a number of offenses:

  • Using the metro network and services, or entry into/exit from areas where fare is applicable, without payment of the applicable fare (AED 200)
  • Failure to present a valid Nol card upon official request (AED 200)
  • Using a Nol card designated for others (AED 200)
  • Using an expired Nol card (AED 200)
  • Using an invalid Nol card (AED 200)
  • Selling Nol cards without prior permission from RTA (AED 200)
  • Using a counterfeit Nol card (AED 500)
  • Causing a disturbance or inconvenience in any way to Dubai Metro users (AED 100)
  • Accessing or sitting in areas designated for specific categories (AED 100)
  • Eating, drinking, chewing gum in metro stations and on trains (AED 100)
  • Sleeping where prohibited (AED 300)
  • Damaging, vandalising or destroying equipment or seats on Dubai Metro (AED 2,000)
  • Parking vehicles in areas designated for metro users for a period exceeding the permitted period (AED 100 per day and up to AED 1,000)
  • Entry into restricted areas in metro stations or trains in violation of posted warning signs and boards (AED 100)
  • Standing or sitting in non-passenger areas inside metro stations (AED 100)
  • Putting feet on seats in metro stations or trains (AED 100)
  • Selling or promoting, in any way goods and commodities inside metro stations or trains (AED 200)
  • Failure to comply with instructions of inspectors or authorised personnel of the RTA or obstructing the performance of their duties (AED 200)
  • Using metro stations or trains contrary to the RTA’s instructions posted on signboards. (AED 200)
  • Bringing animals into metro stations or trains, except guide dogs for blind persons (AED 100)
  • Spitting, littering, or performing any act that compromises the cleanliness of metro station or trains (AED 200)
  • Smoking inside metro stations or trains (AED 200)
  • Misusing lifts or escalators (AED 100)
  • Boarding trains by climbing or jumping (AED 100)
  • Opening doors or attempting to access or leave a train while it is moving between stations and stops (AED 100)
  • Carrying or using materials or equipment that may cause inconvenience to Dubai metro users or endanger their safety (AED 100)
  • Carrying alcoholic beverages inside metro stations and trains (AED 500)
  • Carrying hazardous items, including weapons, sharp tools or inflammable materials, inside metro stations or trains (AED 1,000)
  • Using any security or safety device or tool, including emergency exits where and when it is not necessary (AED 2,000)
  • Misuse of the emergency button in trains (AED 2,000)


Women and children’s carriage at Dubai Metro. Courtesy: TripAdvisor

Common Problems and Complaints
As affordable the rates are and comfortable the general experience is, Dubai Metro isn’t without problems.

1. Too few gates to accommodate passengers during busy hours.
Certain problems are often observed by locals and longtime residents. But there are also those that tourists easily notice. For example large crowds attending church services near Oud Metha station encounter congestion at the metro station as outbound and inbound passengers converge.

2. Male passengers entering women-only carriages.
As if the signs are not visible enough, some male passengers, apparently tourists who are not aware of the special privileges accorded to female passengers, not only enter the restricted sections but also occupy the seats of women-only carriages.

3. Lack of etiquette among passengers.
Some passengers do not behave as they should inside the railway stations. Carrying oversized items, no regard for elderly or disabled people when using the lifts or placing feet at passenger seats are among those that carry fines, but without inspectors around this habit becomes easier to notice.

4. Lack of prayer rooms within stations.
Even though Dubai is an open city, as part of a predominantly Muslim country, many passengers observe certain prayer times and when caught during their metro travel, it becomes more difficult to perform their daily prayer obligations.

5. Some station facilities are not in operation.
Adding to the congestion is the fact that occasionally station facilities do not work properly and had to be shut down. For example, escalators are under maintenance or malfunction and operation had to be suspended. This means passengers have to crowd at elevators or rush onto the flight of stairs.

Tips and Reminders for Dubai Metro Passengers
1. Since there is no driver (trains are fully automated), front view is not obscured by a driver’s cabin. You can get a space at the front side of the train to get best front-views or take photos and/or videos.

2. A car is reserved exclusively for women so males should ensure they are outside these carriages with distinctive pink motif. Although women are free to choose whichever car they wish to board, men are not allowed in this special carriage labeled “Women and Children Only”. Offenders are subject to fines.

3. Besides carriages for women, there is another special car called “Gold Class”. One compartment has been made available for those who want to sit in comfort, to enjoy the extra leg space, arm and headrest, and a relatively empty cabin. This may offer comfort during crowded rush hours, but the charge is double the price of a regular Metro ride. To be honest, it’s not worth taking, especially if you don’t mind squeezing into a crowded train during busy hours.

4. Be aware that Friday is a Day of Prayer in the United Arab Emirates, the Metro does not start service until 2 PM.

5. Make sure to check out every time you get out of the station after each journey. This ensures that appropriate fare is computed. Otherwise, your Nol card may be charged the maximum fare if you fail to check out.

Conclusion
Dubai’s metro is a great way to get around in Dubai. Although only two lines are in operation and many other areas are not yet covered, this public transport means help a lot in easing road traffic and provide additional option for commuters.

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