First impressions count. An experience in one of Abu Dhabi's silver taxi cabs helps to shape a traveller's initial opinion of the emirate. Indeed, taxi drivers are the unofficial ambassadors of the city. Taxi fares have not so far reflected the recent rise in the cost of petrol. As we report today, the price of trips in silver cabs has been increased by one-third to reflect the change. One driver, Aziz Rahman from Pakistan says: "Passengers must feel the increase of price that all of us face by paying a little extra for their transportation." Taxi drivers also fear that customers are less likely to tip as a result of the hike.
Previously a standard cab fare in Abu Dhabi was set at a minimum of Dh3 for each trip, with Dh1 added to the journey for every additional kilometre. From today, the Centre for Regulation of Transport by Hire Cares (TransAD), has set the rate at one full dirham for every 750 metres travelled. With such a small increase, few fare-paying customers are likely to object. We hope that those who own taxi cab companies will use the fare increase to ensure that their drivers are now making just as much as they did before petrol prices rose.
When compared to those in many other parts of the world, it is easier to appreciate Abu Dhabi's silver-cabs and their drivers. They get you where you need to go but cost much less. For instance, it can cost up to an exorbitant Dh28 to travel 1km in one of London's black cabs. That's still more than 20 times more than it costs to take a cab in Abu Dhabi, even after the fare increase. But as prices increase for cabs in Abu Dhabi, we should also remember that we get what we pay for. Taxi drivers in London are paid so much not just because of the high cost of living in the city but also because they have to pass a rigorous test of their road-knowledge. In a recent poll, London's drivers were voted the best and friendliest of any city in the world.
As Abu Dhabi becomes more of a magnet for international tourism and events, its taxi drivers will continue to be on the front-lines of that effort. Today's price rise is a small price to pay to keep them content.