Taxi fare rise... commuters unhappy

Taxi users find the hike in fares for pre-booked taxi rides unreasonable as they are unsatisfied with taxi services in general. 

While, the decision of Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) to hike the minimum charges for pre-booking a taxi during rush hours from Dh6 to Dh10 was received positively by taxi drivers, commuters are a disgruntled lot.[Click here to read about pre-booking fare hike]

Cabbies are of the opinion that there is a lot of improvement needed in the services offered to them. So rather than focussing on the syndicate, RTA should look into ways of improving services, they say.

However, customers beg to disagree. “Taxi drivers are a law unto themselves here. We will get the same abysmal service but we are now expected to pay more for it. The misuse of the service is by taxi drivers, not the public. I find the comments from both RTA & taxi drivers insulting in the extreme,” wrote a reader of 'Emirates24|7' in response to the announcement yesterday.

The new rule will, to a large extent, prevent misuse by customers who pre-book cabs, believe taxi drivers. Majority of cabbies say that most of the times when they reach a location in response to a request, they find the customer gone in another cab. Or they will find other taxi waiting for the same customer.
However, a frequent taxi user defends saying, "I do not see how this will prevent people from taking any taxi that comes first. Knowing that the taxi on its way will charge me Dh10 more than a regular one, I don’t think anybody will think twice to opt for the cheaper and quicker taxi that coincidently passes by,” says Kinana Homsi-Mardini.

Rather than focusing on the pre-booking service, RTA should look into the refusal of taxi drivers to pick up customers who want to travel short distances, voice many consumers.

“What about taxi drivers, who bluntly refuse to drop you to at your desired destination? It has happened to me several times, with my wife, too,” says an upset reader on the 'Emirates 24|7' website.

Indeed, some taxi drivers have developed their preferences in customer demand aiming to make the largest profit, especially at locations where the taxi-ride is needed most.

“The other day I was trying to hail a cab in front of Jumeirah Beach Park, where only a couple of bus routes lead you to very selective places in Dubai. For half-an-hour every taxi driver refused to take me to the nearest Metro station,” says Nawras Kurdi, a Syrian resident of Dubai.

As a result, illegal taxi practices pop up at such places as bees looking for honey. “I was offered many alternatives by suspicious looking blinded car drivers. For Dh30 they would drop me off right in front of the Metro station. A real taxi ride would not cost me more than Dh10," adds Nawras.

When the minimum taxi ride is Dh10, why does this situation happen so often, wonders another reader, who recently visited Dubai on a five-day trip. Frustration over the Dh10 minimum is great, especially among tourists who do not know about the rule and feel they are being ripped off. “The metre was at Dh6, and I had to pay Dh10! There was no way to negotiate with him,” wrote Nina Knaap, a Dutch.

With a customer paying a minimum Dh10 in any case, taxi drivers are somewhat protected against the unprofitability of the short distance ride. However, reports are abundant that drivers are simply refusing to take customers upon hearing the destination.

“It happened to me yesterday evening. I wanted to go from Stadium Metro station to Sahara Mall, because I can walk to Sharjah from that point, avoiding the extra fee for crossing emirates. A simple nod of the driver told me he was not happy with that request, and off he went,” says Marianne Kramer, another Dutch resident in Dubai. 

Paying more for a taxi service is not the problem, but in exchange people should get equivalent service, writes a reader of this news site. “RTA should take this money and educate drivers and train them on basic manners and safe driving. I guess no one would mind paying for a better service.”

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