Cab customers want better service

Fare increase by RTA prompts passengers to demand cleaner taxis, better peak-time service and more knowledgeable drivers.

Taxi customers in Dubai have mixed feelings about the RTA’s increase in fares. Jaime Puebla / The National
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DUBAI // Taxi customers say cabs should be better maintained, there should be more cars on the road during peak hours and that drivers have a better knowledge of the city to justify an increase in fares.

Passengers gave a mixed response when asked if the quality of service offered by taxi firms in Dubai warranted the price hike announced by the Roads and Transportation Authority (RTA) last week. The rate for pre-booked fares will rise from Dh6 to Dh8 during normal hours and from Dh10 to Dh12 at peak times. Flag-fall rates have also increased from Dh3 to Dh5.

“Sometimes I’ve had a good driver, other times they have been really bad,” said Sandra Kelly, 29, from the UK, who works as a business consultant. “It really depends on the driver to be honest.”

Dirty seats and interiors were a major sore point for many customers, she said.

The RTA said the price rise would help to boost incomes for drivers and provide more motivation for them to improve the quality of service. But the move has irked many customers who feel it is a further increase in the costs associated with living and working in the emirate.

“I’m not in favour of the Dh2 increase because we already have to pay a minimum Dh10 for each journey,” Ms Kelly aid. “It’s just another added cost with the increase in rents that is making it more and more difficult to afford to live in the city.”

Imran Asif, 25, from Lahore, who works in real estate, was not impressed by the quality of service.

“A lot of the time they don’t even know where they are going, especially if you ask to go to Abu Dhabi,” he said. “They are always on the phone asking their friends for directions.”

He understood the need for drivers to earn more, but felt the RTA could increase their commission from 30 per cent to 35 per cent.

“I don’t think it’s fair that the customer is having to pay this increase. The Dh2 increase is too much.

“I’m not sure where they are going to spend this extra money, but it should go into making sure there are enough taxis around during the rush-hour periods.”

As Dubai continues to grow it is becoming more and more difficult to get a taxi, said businessman Peter Jacobsen.

“The main issues are during peak hours and you can’t even book in advance because the lines are so busy,” said the 29-year-old from Denmark.

“I really hope that the extra money will go towards increasing the number of drivers on the roads because sometimes it’s impossible to get a cab.”

He said he was happy with the standard of service he received from most drivers but he has had the occasional bad experience.

While customers gave mixed opinions, taxi drivers’ complaints include rude passengers and working long hours for a low commission rate.

Cabbies, none of whom wished to be identified, felt the fare increase was crucial in helping them to earn a living wage.

“Prices are increasing for everyone and although it’s easier to meet our targets these days we only get a small percentage of the commission,” said a Pakistani driver who has been working in Dubai for six years.

“It’s a difficult job to be a taxi driver because we work long shifts and don’t get any days off,” said an Indian driver who has worked in Dubai for five years.

“I’ve had a number of cases with rude customers or people not willing to pay. To go through that so often is difficult, but I hope the fare increase will make it a little bit better.”

No one from the RTA was available for comment at the time of going to press.