Having just started scheduled bus routes in June, 2008, Abu Dhabi’s public transportation system is still in its infancy. In the last few years, the city put a lot of effort into modernizing and expanding the system. The growth has been rapid and consistent although the number of routes and stops are a little on the thin side as of this writing.
What the system lacks in coverage, it makes up in economy. A trip costs 1 Dirham ( $0.37) and day passes are available for 3 Dirhams so you can ride all day until midnight for a little over a dollar. Since the buses are two years old or less, they are in excellent shape and clean. A fleet of 1400 is expected in service by the end of 2010.
The fare is exact change dropped into a coin box next to the driver. The first few seats behind the driver are reserved for the ladies so guys, keep on moving to the back. Women can sit in the rear too if they wish. It is considered poor form for a man to be sitting when women are standing and he is expected to relinquish his seat. Care must be taken to plan a journey around rush hour as the buses fill up fast with the many expat workers going home.
One innovation at some of the larger stops are climate controlled enclosures, a must in the summer heat. Here a rider can purchase the day pass (Ojra) from an automated dispenser and find other information concerning the route system. A very good interactive site for system information is here .
The bus system in Abu Dhabi is a good “Plan B”, but the many inexpensive taxis available are a preferable way to get around in the city. While Abu Dhabi is trying hard to develop the bus system, it may be a few years in the future before the buses are putting taxi drivers out of business!