Ready, steady, and go! The Souqalmal.com team carried out our own Dubai version of The Amazing Race, giving residents a comparison of times and costs for different modes of transportation to coincide with the inauguration of the tram yesterday.
We selected seven different ways to travel from our building in JLT (which is right by the Marina metro station) to the entrance of Souq Madinat Jumeirah (the eventual final stop for the tram after phase 2 of the line is completed).
Our team members jetted off to the Madinat by bus, taxi, car, chauffeur services Uber and Careem, Dubai Metro and Dubai Tram. It might not have been a nail-biting end for all teams, but some of the results were surprising…
Souqalmal.com Amazing Race rule book
- Rule #1: The race starts outside the entrance to 1 Lake Plaza in JLT, and ends at the main entrance of Souq Madinat Jumeirah.
- Rule #2: Teams can combine two modes of transport to reach the end point of the race.
- Rule #3: Teams can take any route to the end point.
- Rule #4: Teams traveling with a private car service (Uber and Careem) can only book their car once the race has started.
- Rule #5: Teams traveling in their own car have to park up and then enter Madinat Jumeirah to end the race.
- Rule #6: Teams traveling in a taxi have to take the Salik route (Sheikh Zayed Road) to Madinat Jumeirah, and teams traveling in cars have to take the (slightly slower) non-Salik route (Al Sufouh Road from Media City).
So, if you’re wondering which transport option would be the best, time- and cost-wise, here’s what we discovered:
- A car was the cheapest mode of transportation, based on fuel consumption only (no running costs).
- A taxi was the fastest option – given that it only took 25 seconds to find one, compared to the chauffeur services, and no parking is involved.
- The tram/ taxi was the shortest distance to the Madinat Jumeirah.
- NB Prices for all public transport went up on 11 November.
Souqalmal Amazing Race summary
|Ranking||Transport||Total time (mins/ secs)||Cost (AED)||Distance (km)|
|2||Car||21m 53s||1.66 *||12.7|
|5||Metro & walking||44m 50s||3/ 6 **||13|
|6||Bus & scooter||44m 78s|| 3
|7||Tram & taxi||59m 77s||13||7.2|
* Formula used to calculate the cost of petrol, driving to the Madinat Jumeirah = ((distance in kms x liters per 100 km)/ 100) x liter price (1.72 AED per liter)
** With the Nol gold card, the ride costs AED 6 and, for silver, AED 3
Team Taxi came in first, as they managed to grab a taxi 25 seconds into the race. The route taken by taxi (Sheikh Zayed Road) included Salik cost.
- Depending on the area, catching a cab is fairly quick and can give you a head start.
- Taking a taxi is a cheaper option than private cars and, even with Salik, it cost less.
- You can avoid paying fines because you haven’t bought the Salik tag or topped it up.
- Taxis can be unreliable. There is no guarantee how quickly you will find one.
- Taxi drivers are not always the slowest of drivers.
- More expensive than other modes of transport, such as the metro, and, during rush-hour traffic, the metro can be faster.
The personal car came in second place, with the team spending 1 min 53 secs parking the car in the Madinat basement car park (impossible to do it that fast at night). No Salik toll gate was crossed during the journey via Media City and Al Sufouh Road, keeping the cost lower but the journey slightly longer.
- You get to choose your own music, and be in the comfort of your car. Also if you have a convertible (as this driver did), you get to drive with the roof down!
- Living in Dubai, the cost of petrol is minimal.
- You can manage your own time. You get to choose, to the second, when you want to set off.
- You can get stuck in traffic for hours. During this race, five minutes were spent at the Madinat junction traffic lights alone
- You have to pay for parking occasionally. In Madinat Jumeirah, an hour costs AED 10.
- You’ve got the running costs and wear and tear to your own vehicle, which we rarely add up to get to the true cost of our driving.
Uber came in third place and the participant had to wait almost 11 minutes before the car arrived. The route taken by Uber included Salik cost on Sheikh Zayed Road.
- The ride has comfortable seating and is clean. There is also free water for passengers.
- All invoices and details about the trip are sent to your email.
- You don’t have to carry cash to pay for the trip; they directly charge your card.
- It’s convenient, as you can book through the app and track all information about your ride, such as expected time of arrival.
- You know how long the car will take to get to you when you book via the app.
- While waiting around 11 minutes for the Uber, four regular taxis passed by.
- Estimated time or arrival on the app wasn’t exact, even though it was just two minutes late.
- It’s AED 15 more expensive than a normal taxi and, during rush hour, prices can soar.
In fourth place was Careem’s car service. Participants waited around 15 minutes before the car arrived. The route taken by Careem included Salik cost on Sheikh Zayed Road.
- The app allows booking to be fairly simple.
- The ride was more comfortable than a normal taxi. There is also free water for passengers.
- The drivers are welcoming and friendly.
- You have an idea of the cost before even getting into the car.
- No need for cash, as your credit card details are already in the system.
- Estimated time of arrival was 11 minutes, but the car actually took 15 minutes to arrive.
- If you don’t have a data package or wifi, you can’t use the app.
- It’s more expensive than a normal car or taxi.
[Related: Why ‘crazy’ offers work for Careem]
The metro team came in fifth place. They took the Marina metro all the way to the Mall of the Emirates metro station, and then walked to Madinat Jumeirah. The metro travel time was just nine minutes, but walking over to the Madinat took almost 30 minutes.
- Generally don’t have to wait too long for a train – it arrives every three to five minutes.
- It is cheap and can be faster to travel by the metro during traffic peak hours.
- Special closed-off area of seating for women and children, and gold class.
- Metro doesn’t always drop you off to your exact destination, and you may need to walk or take a cab (not fun in summer).
- During peak hours, the metro gets crowded and there might not be a seat.
- You have to remember to top-up your Nol card or risk standing in long lines during rush hour to pay for your ticket.
The team which came in sixth place used a micro scooter to get to the bus stop at JBR. After waiting 11 minutes for a bus, they took a 20-minute bus ride through Media City. Getting off the bus at the stop right before Madinat Jumeirah, they raced on scooters to the finish line. It was a close finish between them and the fifth place team walking.
- Reliable mode of transport as the bus runs to a schedule.
- A bus trip doesn’t cost much, especially in this instance, where it cost AED 3.
- Great way to stay physically active and enjoy the fresh air.
- If you aren’t physically fit or are injured, it’s not convenient.
- During summer, it can be too hot to walk or wait for a bus.
- Waiting for a bus is time-consuming.
The team taking the tram was the last to arrive at Madinat Jumeirah, taking a total of 59 minutes. The team got on the tram at Dubai Marina (Station 5) and got off at the last station on Al Sufouh Road (eventually the tram will continue all the way to the Madinat Jumeirah). The tram ride took 22 minutes, 24 seconds, and cost AED 3. However, the team was held back as it took almost 24 minutes to catch a cab from Al Sufouh Rd, and there was a bit of walking involved. The taxi ride to the Madinat Jumeirah cost AED 10.
- Fairly cheap, and currently not as crowded as the metro.
- Convenient for passengers and residents looking to move quickly within the area.
- You can avoid rush-hour traffic as, like the metro, the tram has its own tracks separate to the roads.
- The tram is not as fast as other modes of transportation.
- It’s noisier than the metro – it can get a bit juddery and you’re next to the roads and traffic.
- You have to remember to validate your ticket when you get off the tram or you will be charged a penalty fare.