A cost-effective and convenient way to travel within Dubai is through Roads and Transport Authority’s buses. Taking the bus is easy and straightforward. But not everyone gets it right.

For tourists and other newcomers, what they are accustomed to doing when commuting in their country can be considered offense under RTA’s laws.

Daily bus rides can help a traveler better understand how the system works. But for those who only visit the emirate for a short while, this is not possible. A list of rules and regulations can be found easily, but little mishaps can happen out of carelessness or even accident. While some violations are about fare skipping or cleanliness, there are those that cover safety.

According to the RTA helpline, these are the common mistakes — not necessarily violations — bus passengers make while travelling in Dubai.

Standing within marked sections

Passengers sometimes stand on sections marked with red lines on the floor as well as near the side doors. This is more likely to happen on a crowded commute and travelers are forced to occupy any available vacant space.

Improper use of Nol card

Passengers often use Nol card to pay for bus fares in Dubai. However, sometimes these cards, or mobile phone, their popular proxy, are not used properly. For instance, some passengers swipe and immediately go inside the bus without ensuring that the reader has acknowledged the tap. Others also hold the Nol card too long, resulting in both check-in and check-out at the same time. Another is when passengers tap their cards too soon even before the bus makes an obligatory halt at the next stop. They are advised to wait for the bus to halt before checking out.

In fairness to travelers, Nol cards need more fine-tuning in functionality if this set of errors often take place.

Forget to check out

Checking out means swiping the card at a designated terminal on routes that offer section fare (you pay only on the distance covered in your journey, not the entire bus route). Once a passenger checks in, the system deducts AED7.50 when traveling within Dubai.

If your journey’s fare is just AED3, checking out credits back the AED4.50 back to your Nol card. Failure to check out means you are overpaying your bus trip.


A sleepy passenger can get fined though tired workers briefly dozing off during their journey may be given a pass by a considerate inspector.

Chewing gum

Although chewing gum in public is not banned unlike in Singapore, doing the same thing inside the bus in Dubai is a no-no. In fact, along with eating and drinking in the bus, chewing gum is strictly prohibited. If caught, a passenger will get fined. The ruling is also extended to bus stops where a woman apparently was caught and fined AED100.

Failure to keep ticket during journey

Bus inspectors make surprise visits at buses at any given time of the day to check for bad behavior (sleeping, eating, arguing, etc) or if passengers have paid their fare upon boarding the train. If you fail to show proof of payment (Nol card or valid ticket), you could get fined. So during the entire bus journey, make sure that you have proof of payment ready.

Not leaving the bus if requested by driver

Sometimes buses can get overcrowded that it’s already unsafe to proceed without asking some passengers to disembark and wait for the next bus. However, since this is a voluntary thing, each passenger hopes someone will alight and spare the rest of the group to go on. If nobody is willing to do so — especially on a busy rush hour trip to work — driver could choose ones closest to the door to leave. Failure to comply this simple request entails a fine of AED100. This also applies to people who cause disturbance to other passengers and requested by the driver to disembark.

Arguing with other passengers

An unintentional bump, stare or other petty reasons can be a cause of mayhem in the bus. Passengers are expected to behave well and not to disturb others. But if a misunderstanding happens, voices raised and the argument gets out of hand, quarreling parties are subjected to a fine of AED50.

What to do if you don’t have money to pay the fine up front?

Fines for various violations range between AED50 to AED250. If you don’t have money to pay the fine on the spot, the inspector will confiscate your Emirates ID and will issue you a receipt.

Within 48 hours you need to go to the public transport agency in Amman Street, Al Muhaisnah 4 Area, just to be sure that the Emirates ID has been properly endorsed. You can collect your Emirates ID once you paid the fine. Payment of the fine should be made in person after 48 hours and before 30 days. If you wish an extension to pay the fine, inform the office in order to avoid any escalation to the police department or immigration.

For any additional information, call the Dubai RTA assistance at 800 90 90.