Every resident of Dubai has a story to tell about a taxi driver. While good experiences are not often shared, the bad ones are more discussed – such as the driver refused to stop, the driver flouted traffic rules, the driver was rude, smelly, harassing or inattentive… we have heard it all.
There is no place in the world without complaints about taxi drivers, officials have repeatedly stated. Taxi drivers are kind people, who work long hours.
The Road and Transport Authority (RTA) closely monitor cabbies that serve the emirate as they are “the ambassadors in daily communication with various community segments”. However, feedback from the public is necessary in order to deal with inadequate service delivery, argues the RTA.
It is important to complain when a customer is not satisfied so action can be taken, argues the RTA. This can be done through by calling 8009090, and the customer will be contacted within seven working days.
Only a couple of weeks ago a resident in Dubai complained of a cabbie who had allegedly hit her on the face. She claimed that the taxi driver had refused to give her a ride, after which she tried to capture his number plate on camera. The driver then got out of his vehicle, and allegedly hit her on the face, she said.
When a customer is not satisfied with the services of a cabbie, he can submit a complaint. Two things may happen after that, explained Youssef al Ali, CEO of the Public Transport Agency (PTA).
“In case of an isolated incident, the concerned taxi company will deal with the feedback. The customer will be contacted, and if needed the matter will be investigated. If the incident is more serious, the PTA functions as a regulator.”
A cabbie that repeatedly makes the same mistake, is likely to face the consequences. When the same complaint about the same driver is made six times, the case will be seen in front of a committee, which might result in termination, Al Ali explained. In less severe cases, the cabbie might have to follow a training course, depending on the number of times the violation was repeated.
The most common complaint in 2013 was the refusal of taxi drivers to stop or serve customers. In response to the high number of complaints of this nature the RTA invented the smart meter, which clearly shows whether the cabby is available.
Apart from customer complaints the RTA applies its own tracking system, known as the D8 system.
Through the D8 system, the RTA monitors the movement of taxis. Speeding violations, the number of trips, the average time per trip, and the location of taxi drivers can all be seen through the smart solution, explains Adel Shakri, Director of Transportation Systems.
According to the system, the number of violations made in 2013 went down with 15 per cent, said Al Shakri.
Meanwhile, the arrival time of the taxi to the customer slightly increased.
The improvement of arrival time is difficult to measure, as the demand of taxis is growing simultaneously, he explained. "The time the taxi needs to get to a customer depends on three factors: the location, the number of taxis available and traffic.
"We continuously increase the number of taxis on the street to keep up with the growing demand, and 155 taxis will be added to the regular fleet within the next 2-3 months," Adel explained.
Meanwhile, the RTA has remapped the emirate into smart zones. Previously, the RTA considered 70 zones, which are now 200 zones. "These zones are not only linked to space, but also to traffic and demand. For example, Emirates Hills is a large area with low demand, but counts as one zone. Another zone might consist of a much smaller area but with high traffic volumes."
Luckily, the emphasis is not only on ‘bad cabbies’. Recently, the Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC) honoured 155 distinguished taxi drivers under the Drivers Management System in recognition of their quality performance and dedication.
While five drivers were granted cash rewards of Dh10 thousand each, 50 drivers were granted Dh5,000 each, and 95 drivers Dh2,000 each.
“The DTC attaches considerable attention to distinguished drivers and allocates an annual budget of about two million dirham as rewards for them under a system that selects drivers on the basis of excellent results achieved in delivering services to customers," said Mansour al Falasi, Acting Director at the DTC.
The drivers were assessed based on honesty, customer complaints, results of the mysterious shopper/rider, daily income per kilometer, accidents, traffic fines, and black points.