The United Arab Emirates is a melting pot of different cultures and communities —and the service that connects them all is the country’s public transportation system. The emirate of Abu Dhabi is no exception. Abu Dhabi public transport is governed by the Department of Transport (DoT) which is responsible for ensuring its development, planning and integration.
However, if you are new to Abu Dhabi, getting around can be challenging —especially if you don’t own a private vehicle, your workplace doesn’t provide transport or you can’t rely on anyone else to drive you around. What type of transport is available in Abu Dhabi? How can visitors or residents make the most of it for their commute? Below is everything you must know about Abu Dhabi public transport.
Abu Dhabi Bus Transport Service
Announced in 2008, the Public Bus Transportation Service in Abu Dhabi is a DoT venture which caters to the transportation needs of different communities within the emirate. One of their services is the city’s much-revered public bus service.
Public buses in the emirate operate on a 24/7 basis and are fully air-conditioned with access for passengers with disabilities. Senior citizens (aged 60 and above) and disabled passengers travel for free. Additionally, the service is pretty easy to use with passengers getting on and off by placing AED 2 in collection boxes next to drivers. Of course, if you are planning to use the bus service on a regular basis, you can always use a Hafilat smart card.
Hafilat Smart Cards
A Hafilat smart card enables payment of fares in any public Abu Dhabi bus transport service. Depending on the type of card obtained, Hafilat cards may allow passengers to obtain travel passes, top up with a cash value through a T-purse or do both. Easy to use, these passes are a smart incentive that enables frequent travellers the flexibility they need to travel across Abu Dhabi with ease.
There are six types of Hafilat cards available, designed to accommodate different needs and current requirements. For a better understanding of how an Abu Dhabi bus card works, here is a rundown of prices for each category and other details:
Available for AED 5 for a limited time period (14 days from the day of purchase), a Temporary Hafilat cardholder is allowed a T-Purse top-up of AED 150 with the option of adding a 7-day travel pass. Special add-ons allowed in this regard include a renewable unlimited travel pass inside the city for AED 30, valid for 7 consecutive days.
Permanent Card (Anonymous)
An Anonymous card for the price of AED 10, Permanent Hafilat cards are valid for 5 years. Add on specials include the AED 30 unlimited local travel pass and one for AED 80 with a validity of 30 consecutive days. Besides these, Permanent (Personalized), Special Needs, Senior Citizen and Student Hafilat cards are available for AED 5 and have a 5-year validity. Special Needs, Senior Citizen and Student Cards aren’t allowed add-on specials.
Hafilat Cards and Public Transport Fees
The following rates are calculated according to travel kilometres of a full bus route according to category:
- By public transport service (local city buses): AED 2
- By public transport service (suburb buses): AED 2 + 5 Fils per kilometre
- By public transport service (intercity buses): AED 10 + 10 Fils per kilometre
Hafilat card outlets are available at shopping malls, bus stations, vending machines for tickets and customer care centres in Abu Dhabi. Card outlets are also accessible at ticket offices at bus stations after submitting a personal photo and necessary documentation.
Public transport services available for each Hafilat category include local city bus services, suburb bus services and intercity bus services from Abu Dhabi. For information regarding Abu Dhabi bus timetable and Abu Dhabi transport routes (like Intercity Bus Services), visit the DoT website.
Department of Transport Abu Dhabi Fines: Public Bus Transport Usage Violation
The Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi has rules in place to ensure that its bus service provides a comfortable and convenient experience for passengers. Violations of bus transport rules incur heavy fines. On that note, here are some fines that passengers must keep in mind:
- Creating disturbance for other passengers: AED 500
- Eating, drinking or smoking in prohibited areas: AED 200
- Re-selling tickets: AED 500
- Travelling by paying incorrect fare: AED200
- Entering areas designed for a specific class of passengers: AED 100
- Obstructing safe passage of other passengers: AED 200
- Disturbing the driver or any public transport authority: AED 200
- Placing feet on seats or placing arm out the door or window: AED 200
- Failing to produce a permit to any authorized person: AED 500
In addition to regular taxis, the emirate of Abu Dhabi has special taxi services for women, children and disabled passengers. You can flag taxis down the road, book one on the phone or through a mobile app. Most shopping malls have dedicated taxi stands. However, you can also call TransAd on 60-053-5353 to book one. Aside from regular taxis, there are two taxi services visitors or residents must know about:
- Silver taxis that are operated by authorised taxi services with metered fares
- Pink taxis are driven by women and are exclusively for female passengers and children under the age of 10
Local ride-hailing services like Uber and Careem are also useful for Abu Dhabi public transport. Most taxi drivers speak Arabic as well as international languages like Filipino, English and Urdu — ideal for expats living in the country.
For those who rely on the city’s taxi services on a frequent basis, we recommend downloading the Abu Dhabi Taxi app, available for iOS and Android platforms.
Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport operates two passenger and vehicle ferries from the city to Delma Island and back. Operating daily, both ferries enable passengers to make the trip to and from the island in one day. Passengers must also be aware of the following information before taking the ferry to Delma Island or Abu Dhabi:
- Passengers aged 12 and above: AED 20
- Passengers aged below 12: Free
- Price of ferrying 1 vehicle: AED 100
Passengers are also required to carry the following documents before reaching the port:
- Vehicle Registration Card: For transporting a vehicle on a ferry
- Valid ID: Any official ID like a valid Emirates ID, passport, employment card or driving license
We recommend visiting the DoT website for additional information regarding safety rules, ferry timetables and port locations. Individuals can also call the Abu Dhabi toll free number for further enquiries.
- Contact: 800-888-88
- Location: Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi
- Opening hours: 07:00 am to 03:00 pm (Sunday to Thursday)
That’s all for everything you must know about the Abu Dhabi public transport system. Don’t need to rely on buses and taxis for your daily commute? Before you take off in your vehicle, make sure that you are aware of parking rules in Abu Dhabi. The Salik automated road toll system will make your journey much smoother. Do you plan to visit Dubai? Download any of the popular public transport apps in Dubai to make your commutes easier.