Getting a Causeway discount card

if you use the Causeway regularly, you may not be aware that there is a discount card. As far as I'm aware, this is only for Saudi iqama holders, but if anyone knows if you can get this with a CPR, let me know.

The card has two advantages
- it allows you to use the far right car lane at the Saudi side of the toll which often has a sign up saying "Authorised Personnel only".
- it gives you 15% off the toll fee

To get your card, you need to visit the King Fahad Causeway office that issues them on the Saudi side of the Causeway. On the image below, the entrance is shown by the arrow.

https://preview.ibb.co/cFNcpc/Screen_Shot_2018_03_13_at_11_37_47.png

The office used to be open at highly inconvenient hours (8:30-1 Sun-Thu) which made it nigh impossible to get there. They've recently extended these hours to make it dead easy. It's now open 8am-7pm Sun to Thurs and (unbelievably) Saturday from 9am-3pm.

You'll need your iqama to get your card issued. The guys in there usually speak enough English and the process is straightforward.

Once you have the card, you need to top it up. You need to do this, for some reason, in multiples of SAR 850. There doesn't seem to be a limit as to how much you can add. I've had SAR 4,000+ on the card before. Now that it's easy to get it recharged, I just keep the minimum on it.

The discount means that each trip costs you SAR 21.25 instead of 25. On a daily 5-day work week commute with ten return trips, each SAR 850 increment should allow you to travel for 20 working days or 4 weeks. (21.25*20*2 = 850).

There are only two ways to pay this fee. You either use a Saudi bank debit card or you tell them you want to pay cash, they give you bank details, you walk over to the bank near the mosque, pay the cash in, get a receipt and bring it back to the card office. I highly recommend paying with a debit card ;)

Now that you have a charged discount card, you use it by simply tapping it against the small brown box just before the window of the toll booth. There's one of these on every toll lane on both sides of the Causeway. The box beeps when it registers the tap. I recommend you wait until the barrier starts to drop after the car before you. Otherwise, you might be charged but the light might not go green and you'll have to tap again which is presumably a double charge. This has happened to me a few times.

As I said, you can use the "Authorised Personnel only" lane on the Saudi toll side, which is usually an advantage as that lane moves more quickly because of card users. Often, they let cash users into that lane though which slows it down, and if it's really busy, there's no advantage at all as every lane is a free for all.

If you want to know the card balance, tap your card as normal and then ask the guy inside if he can tell you how much is on the card. He'll tell you the balance in riyals. If your card runs out of credit, the box will still beep but the light won't go green. You'll need to pay the SAR 25 cash fee at that point.

To top up your card, simply return to the office with the card and ask them to top it up. It takes a minute or two. You don't need your iqama for this and you can top up as many cards as you want (you can top up a friend's, for example).

The card has no expiry date.

PS - spread the word about this. The more people that have cards, the faster those toll lines will move!

Thanks for the update. 

This helps at the toll but to be fair; the biggest impact I get every week is really at custom booth (KSA to Bahrain side) and since the last few months, at Bahrain immigration.

It used to be that Saudi immigration was slow and Bahrain lightning fast.  It has completely reversed over the last 3-4 months.  And for the life of me, I can't figure out if it's the Bahrain system or operators who are not trained.

So now the typical timelines I face on the way back, depending on time I reach causeway entrance:

Toll - 5 min max
Saudi customs (Slip receive) - 10-30 mins
Saudi immigration - 10-30 mins
Bahrain immigration - 30-60 mins
Bahrain customs - 10 mins

First two weeks of the month are the worst due to payday!

Can you tell me how can get me CARD !

I think he gave very clear instructions in his post already. Please read.

XTang :

So now the typical timelines I face on the way back, depending on time I reach causeway entrance:

Toll - 5 min max
Saudi customs (Slip receive) - 10-30 mins
Saudi immigration - 10-30 mins
Bahrain immigration - 30-60 mins
Bahrain customs - 10 mins

First two weeks of the month are the worst due to payday!

In the three years I've been commuting, I've kept detailed records of my times on the causeway island, mostly for my own sanity. I get to the car paper queue about 3:50pm on a weekday going Saudi-Bahrain. It might shock you to know that my average for the entire island is 30 mins for everything.

You might also be surprised how similar the Saudi and Bahrain passport queues are in that time. The maximum average difference has only been 8 mins twice (March 2016 (Saudi worse) and October 2017 (Bahrain worse)) and for the rest of the months the average for the two queues are within a minute or two of each other. In other words, when Saudi is bad, Bahrain is also bad.

There's no significant spike for figures at the start of the month either so the payday thing really makes no statistical difference if you are doing this daily over years. The averages are pushed up by school holidays when you can expect delays all week until, strangely, Thursday which is usually the quickest day on a school holiday week.

I can't speak for the times you hit the causeway (unless it's the same time as me), but from my experience, most people who don't keep a record of times think that they spend a lot more time than they actually do. The longest it's ever taken me is 120 minutes on the island and that was back in March 2015, but I regularly hear people say that they spend 3 hours plus on the island. I honestly don't think they do... unless they stop at Kudu and count that!

True that's a fair analysis but it really depends on the timing.  Working day and weekend cannot really be compared; ditto peak times (5-7 on working days and 730-1030 on weekends) .  Like you, if I get to the causeway around 4 pm on a working day, it's 30 minutes max - this is best time for a daily commute except during school holidays where you might want to go later or earlier.  So in this, your analysis is correct.  However, even in working days, if you get to causeway at around 5, then the timelines are longer until around 7.

The only real difference between you and me is that I hit the causeway on a Thursday night between 8 and 10 pm on average - as I drive from Riyadh.  That's where your timekeeping is not at all accurate.

On that night and at that time, payday makes a huge huge difference. It's generally much busier during the first two weeks.  On Thursday night, the causeway times fluctuate between 30 minutes to 2 hours.  With such a huge crowd; the Bahrain system has been slower than Saudi since the last three to six months.

And I can personally tell you that back in Nov; I was stuck on the causeway for a total of 4 hours during the above mentioned times.  It was avenues opening, payday, system issues at Bahrain side i.e. basically murphy's law.  The queue was backed up to the bridge - almost a km back ie just to get to entrance of Vip lane was taking 45 mins.  This was even reported in the newspapers.  This choke continued throughout the weekend.  And no, there was no Kudu :)

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1188551/saudi-arabia

Like you, I have been keeping my times and co-relating with Zahma O La as well.  Thursday night is the avoid causeway night but unfortunately not for me :(

my timekeeping is accurate, with the caveat that you arrive when I do. Obviously, coming from Riyadh, you won't so that's where your timekeeping is accurate for you.

from that description, I'm not sure you know about the shortcut for when it's backed up to the VIP lane entrance ;-)

No no, I meant it is backed up way beyond the VIP lane entrance i.e. the traffic was stretching all the way up to the causeway bridge.  The bit where you see the island for the first time from far away when the road dips down....think it's around 2 km from that point to the bill board near VIP lane entrance.

So basically, on that day, we got in the queue on the way down from the bridge, far away from the central island. There is no short cut to the vip lane on the bridge itself.....you have to get to the central island to be able to use it :).  So before the vip lane guys were able to go left into the lane entrance on the approach to the island, a good 45 mins to an hour had passed.

don't worry... I know what you meant...

New topic