Dual-shift system should put more taxis on Abu Dhabi roads

TransAd still pushing companies to hire more drivers for new system.
Taxi drivers say they will struggle to meet targets if forced to share their cars under a dual-shift system. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Taxi drivers say they will struggle to meet targets if forced to share their cars under a dual-shift system. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // Residents should have an easier time finding a taxi in Abu Dhabi during peak hours, with many drivers moving to a day-shift, night-shift system.

Last June, the Centre for Regulation of Transport of Hire Cars (TransAD) told six franchise companies that 40 per cent of their fleet must be dual shift. However, a two-shift system means companies must hire more drivers. There are 10,000 drivers in the emirate.

“With a double shift, companies are in essence doubling their entire fleet,” said Mohamed Al Hosani, TransAD’s regulation and licensing manager. “But we are also aware that there is a shortage of taxi drivers, so we are giving them time to comply.”

He did not provide a specific deadline for compliance.

“Right now, a driver is working for about 12 to 14 hours, not the whole day,” Mr Al Hosani said.

“With a double-shift system, we’re ensuring that the majority of the taxis of all six franchise companies are out on the road, available 24 hours a day.”

Last month, 35 of 270 new Mercedes Vito Compact cars went into service, an initiative intended to help alleviate the taxi shortage in the city.

But a taxi manager, who did not wish to be named, said there had been few takers.

“My drivers say ... customers are hesitant to ride in the new taxi vans because they think they are as expensive as the airport taxis.”

The flagfall for the new taxis remains at Dh3.50. For airport taxi vans, the fare starts at Dh25.

There are just over 7,000 taxis in the emirate. Abu Dhabi also has six special-needs taxis in addition to 220 airport taxi vans operated by Emirates Transport.

Of 1,021 taxis run by Cars Taxi, 150 are dual shift, said Henry Fernandes, operations manager for Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

“We need to allocate 250 more taxis to meet TransAD’s requirements for the dual-shift system,” he said. “So far we have 1,500 drivers but we are in the process of recruiting 500 more.”

Al Ghazal Transport operates 110 taxis on dual shift.

“We’ll increase the number of dual-shift cabs gradually,” said franchise manager Ali Yousef.

Meeran Raja Ibrahim, general manager at Arabia Taxi, said the company aimed to start the dual-shift system in three months.

“We need to first determine the peak hours to match the supply and demand for taxis,” Mr Ibrahim said.

Drivers, however, are not keen to share their cabs.

“It’s useless,” said Lokman Gurung, 35, who drives for National Taxi. “During the day, there are no customers between 10am and 3pm. At night, we can’t find customers unless we wait outside hotels.”

Companies should increase the number of taxis and hire more drivers so people can more easily find taxis, he said.

Under a dual-shift system, drivers will have a hard time reaching their daily target of Dh450 to Dh500, said Nicholas Ssembuya, 28, a Cars Taxi driver for 14 months.

“I work about 14 to 15 hours a day,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy to meet our target if there is a double-shift system.”

“Nobody likes the double-shift system because we all came here to earn more money,” said Thir Lal Bhattarai, 32, who drives for Arabia Taxi. “We might consider it if we have fixed salaries and do not need to worry about hitting our target and earning a commission.”

rruiz@thenational.ae

Published: March 1, 2015 04:00 AM

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