My wife likes to take public transport. From the time that we first moved to Abu Dhabi, she's been taking the city bus to find out where the various buses go. She would spend the one dirham to get on the bus and ride it to find out where it went. Within a month or two, she had the Abu Dhabi Bus system mapped out.
With me having time off from work, she was able to finally fulfill a dream: to take the city bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and back. Nevermind that we have two cars and that she could drive if she wanted. Even the friend that went along with her when answering her husband's question of why she didn't just drive said, "I think she just wants to take the bus."
The Abu Dhabi and Dubai guide book that my visiting friends left here says that the bus generally isn't for tourists as it isn't very convenient. Still, my wife was undeterred. After going to the Abu Dhabi bus terminal and buying the card necessary to get on the bus then paying to put the necessary fare on the card, she was off. She had been warned that the laborers who take the bus can sometimes have a ripe odor, but she said that it wasn't too bad. She got there with minimal difficulty and was able to get to the Dubai mall.
After shopping with her friend for a while they headed home. In order to get back to the Dubai bus terminal to get to Abu Dhabi, they had to change buses in Dubai at some point. In getting off the first bus, the card reader wasn't working, so they had to just get off the bus without scanning their cards. When the second bus arrived, my wife and her friend couldn't scan their cards to get on the bus. It's a cashless system so they couldn't just pay their fare. The upshot was that they couldn't get on the bus. They had to take a taxi to the Dubai bus terminal to purchase new cards as the terminal is the only place a person can buy them.
In the end, the bus ride was fairly cheap but the experience left my wife shaking her head. My wife summed up the experience by saying, "The guidebook says that tourists shouldn't use the bus but it should say can't use the bus. There's no way a tourist would be able to use the system." Ah, yes. Yet another argument for choosing Dubai for your next vacation.