Seat belt? Check. Safe tyres? Check. Sweetly perfumed air? The Dubai Taxi Corporation is working on it. Amid some complaints about taxis with bad odours, officials are taking steps to try to make rides as easy on the nostrils as possible. Among the steps are stain-resistant seat covers, power washers to scrub vehicle interiors and, of course, air fresheners. "These organic perfumes have pleasant fragrance, and many passengers expressed their pleasure with this type of perfume," said Yousef al Ali, the director of fleet processes and operations at the taxi corporation.
A statement issued by the Roads and Transport Authority said it was part of a drive to "create a feeling of added comfort". So far, only cabs running airport routes are perfumed. But what if a bump - or a queasy passenger - leads to a spill in the cab? Officials say a barrier of treated, removable plastic will prevent any nastiness from setting in. "This type of heavy-duty cover is supported by a plastic coat precluding the penetration of liquids and unpleasant smells to the seats," Mr al Ali said.
And if all else fails, problems can be wiped out by machines that can scour 50 vehicles a day and have them back on the road the next morning, Mr al Ali said. Some passengers welcomed the idea of air fresheners, but could take or leave the other measures. "The cars are usually clean, and I never notice it unless someone has spilt something on the back seat and didn't tell the driver," said Bill Edwards, 36, an engineer from the UK. "The added fragrances could make a difference."
Matt Hecke, 29, a food and beverage manager from Germany, said: "I think the drivers look after their cars and don't want them messy. I never got out of a taxi because it was dirty, but have been tempted several times to get out because of the smell."
Officials will seek drivers' opinions after a month before rolling the changes out for the fleet.