When not to try advance booking a taxi in Dubai

Booking a taxi in advance can be an advantage. You might not want to risk the wait, and be sure of the time of the arrival. Or you might just be a planner, and would not like to leave certain things until the end.

In either case, there are chances of commuters being disappointed as advanced booking is not always possible in Dubai.

During peak hours, prior booking of taxis is not an option, according to Road and Transport Authority (RTA’s), Booking and Dispatch Center. In between morning 7am and 10am and evening 5pm and 8pm no taxis will be booked at any other time than ‘right now’.

Youssef Al Ali, CEO of Public Transportation Authority, RTA, said, “It is always possible to book a taxi for immediate use. However, advanced booking is only available outside peak hours.”

Furthermore, RTA advises on its Twitter page that when making a pre-booking, this should ideally be done two hours or more before the taxi is needed, so the service can be guaranteed.

"To book a taxi in advance is a service, isn’t it? It is an advantage to the customer to know that the taxi will arrive at a certain time, and there are no extra costs involved. However, during peak hours we cannot guarantee that a taxi will arrive at a certain time, so this service has been eliminated," said Al Ali.

Although no complaints have been received by RTA, some commuters say it is confusing. "The operators always tell us they can't do anything if we call two hours in advance and that we have to call only 20 minutes before, " reads a tweet by a customer on the RTA Twitter page.

"I was not aware of this rule. I have never tried to book a taxi at a certain time, but I would think that this was possible at any time," said Lesley Hardey, a British resident.

The good news is that the service will be available at any given time soon, provided the taxi service contacted is Hala Taxi.

"We are likely to add 300 taxis to the Hala Taxi fleet, and once we have done this we will be able to provide the advanced taxi booking service at all hours," said Al Ali.

Hala Taxi was introduced in November this year to serve the increasing number of people contacting the Booking and Dispatch Center. The initial fleet of 155 black-and-grey vehicles Taxi only responds to bookings made through the Center, and will not be able to pick up customers on the street.

"The Hala Taxi service has proven to be a great success, said Al Ali, "and we will soon add 300 taxis to the fleet. We are still studying the implementation, but we expect to do this within the first quarter of 2014."

It is not clear whether the booking in advance option of Hala Taxi will come at an extra cost. Prior booking for a regular taxi outside peak hours does not have the additional charge, but adds an exta Dh6 to the total fare in morning hours and Dh7 during the day.

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