I rode the Dubai Metro in a first-class cabin - and it was the best subway ride I've ever had

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Dubai MetroBenjamin Zhang/Business Insider

  • The Dubai Metro operates trains with three different classes of service; Silver Class, Women and Children Only, and Gold Class.
  • Silver Class is the regular service while Gold Class is the metro equivalent of first class.
  • Gold Class costs more but offers amenities such as individual seating.

Every day, I depend on New York and New Jersey's aging public transportation network to get me to work and back. Over the years, the lack of investment compounded by ever-increasing ridership has left the system in tatters leading to operational headaches and angry passengers. I'm looking at you MTA, New Jersey Transit, and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

So I found it rather refreshing to experience the recently constructed metro system in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In fact, the Dubai Metro has something I had never encountered before, a first-class cabin. Or as the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority calls it, Gold Class.

Like first class on any train or airliner, Gold Class buys you extra room and amenities. However, it comes at a price. In this case, roughly double what someone would typically pay to ride in the metro's standard cabin.

Since Dubai's metro system is arranged into multiple zones, the cost of a ride can vary significantly. A ride on the metro in the standard Silver class within a zone could cost a little as 3 Dirhams or $0.81. On the other hand, a single ride Gold Class ticket valid to cross all zones costs as much as 19 Dirhams or $5.13.

Here's a closer look at my experience on the Dubai Metro's Gold Class.

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The Dubai Metro opened for business in 2009 and features 47 stations on two lines, Red and Green.

The Dubai Metro opened for business in 2009 and features 47 stations on two lines, Red and Green.

The stations and the track are generally both elevated, but there are portions of the network that runs underground. The stations are equipped with wifi, ATMs, and retail outlets.

The stations and the track are generally both elevated, but there are portions of the network that runs underground. The stations are equipped with wifi, ATMs, and retail outlets.

Here's one of those elevated tracks.

Here's one of those elevated tracks.

The Red Line, seen here, is 32.5 miles long and run along Dubai's main thoroughfare, Sheikh Zayed Road. The Green line 14.4 miles long and runs in the northern part of the Emirate.

The Red Line, seen here, is 32.5 miles long and run along Dubai's main thoroughfare, Sheikh Zayed Road. The Green line 14.4 miles long and runs in the northern part of the Emirate.

The Dubai Metro operates driverless trains each consisting of five cars. Four of the cars operate a Silver Class or regular metro/subway layout. The remaining car is split into two cabins. A Women and Children only cabin and Gold Class.

The Dubai Metro operates driverless trains each consisting of five cars. Four of the cars operate a Silver Class or regular metro/subway layout. The remaining car is split into two cabins. A Women and Children only cabin and Gold Class.

The Gold Class is found either at the very front or the very end of the train depending on the direction of the train's route.

The Gold Class is found either at the very front or the very end of the train depending on the direction of the train's route.

Since there are glass doors separating the platform from the track...

Since there are glass doors separating the platform from the track...

... There is a sign designating the location of the Gold Class boarding door.

... There is a sign designating the location of the Gold Class boarding door.

Here's a view of the track from the Gold Class boarding area at the Red Line's Financial Centre station.

Here's a view of the track from the Gold Class boarding area at the Red Line's Financial Centre station.

Inside, Gold Class is very clean and very spacious.

Inside, Gold Class is very clean and very spacious.

Unlike a standard subway car, the Gold Class is equipped with individual seats.

Unlike a standard subway car, the Gold Class is equipped with individual seats.

Some of the seats are arranged in a club style that faces one another.

Some of the seats are arranged in a club style that faces one another.

Many of the forward facing seats are equipped with seat back tray tables. Although, I didn't actually see anyone ever use it.

Many of the forward facing seats are equipped with seat back tray tables. Although, I didn't actually see anyone ever use it.

There are also a pair of inward facing seats at the front of the car.

There are also a pair of inward facing seats at the front of the car.

It's where you get the best views of the track.

It's where you get the best views of the track.

The view from the side window isn't too shabby either.

The view from the side window isn't too shabby either.

An information display and loudspeaker do a good job of barking out information to the rider.

An information display and loudspeaker do a good job of barking out information to the rider.

And there is also a luggage compartment so people won't have to schlep their bags around.

And there is also a luggage compartment so people won't have to schlep their bags around.

Since there aren't any actually conductors on the train to check tickets. There are signs posted on the doors and...

Since there aren't any actually conductors on the train to check tickets. There are signs posted on the doors and...

... Above them warning people that those who are in Gold Class, but didn't pay for the ticket are subject to a 100 Dirham or $27 fine.

... Above them warning people that those who are in Gold Class, but didn't pay for the ticket are subject to a 100 Dirham or $27 fine.

The verdict.

The verdict.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time riding around on the Dubai Metro. Even in Silver Class, the trains were clean and well maintained. But with ridership increasing, the Silver Class can be extremely crowded, especially during rush hour. Which is why Gold Class is the way to go.

Even though it does cost more, the experience is significantly better. And while Gold Class can also get quite full, the general ambiance of the cabin helps make the crowd more tolerable.

I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel around the world and experience many of the major metro/subway systems in operation today. In my opinion, Gold Class is simply the best experience I've ever had.

It will be interesting to see how the Dubai Metro system will contend with surging ridership and aging rolling stock in the coming years. But for now, at least, it has a product offering as good as, or better, than any system around the world.

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