ABU DHABI // Taxi fares in the capital will increase from the start of next month, with a minimum charge of Dh10 for trips after 10pm.
TransAD officials announced the changes yesterday, setting higher starting fees and per-kilometre rates. They also announced a decrease in the fee for booking a taxi through the call centre, from Dh5 to Dh3 during the day and Dh4 at night.
“We are encouraging the public to always reserve taxis,” said Mohamed Hussain Al Hosani, TransAD’s director of franchise and licensing. “We’re trying to decrease taxis just roaming in the streets without business.”
From May 1 the starting “flagfall” for taxis will rise from Dh3 to Dh3.50 during the day (6am to 10pm), and from Dh3.60 to Dh4 at night.
The charge per kilometre will increase from Dh1.33 to Dh1.6 during the day and Dh1.69 at night. For trips of more than 50km, the per-kilometre charge will increase from Dh1.50 to Dh1.69. At night, if a trip costs less than Dh10, the customer must pay the difference.
“Nice,” said Silab Hussain, a 23-year-old taxi driver from Pakistan. “Better for me.”
Mr Hussain takes home about Dh4,000 in salary and incentive pay per month. To earn that he works from 5am until as late as midnight.
Taxi driver Mohabat Ali said he also would like to see fares increase – but guessed that customers would not. “All people are poor,” said Mr Ali, from Pakistan. “I’m poor, other people are poor.”
Catching a taxi near Marina Mall, Ayman Salah said the new fares would make him reconsider his travel habits.
“This will definitely affect me,” said Mr Salah, 32, from Sudan. “I take a lot of taxis. That means I should plan to get a car.”
But customer Cherene Popp, 51, from the United States, said the increase is minor. “It won’t bother me too much,” she said.
“As for the minimum night charge. The fare’s usually that much anyway.”
To set the new tariffs, TransAD spent more than a year studying taxi usage and polling customers.
They found that the fare increase will be about Dh2 per ride for most customers, Mr Al Hosani said.
The fare rise will push more people to use public transportation, like buses, he said.
“It’s part of a direction taken by all responsible to encourage public transport.”
Also yesterday, TransAD announced numerous changes for taxi operating companies intended to make life better for drivers.
The agency restructured its system of fines so drivers pay penalties related to driving – like fines for speeding – while companies pay other fines, including those related to unclean cars.
“Before the taxi driver was responsible for almost everything,” Mr Al Hosani said.
Second, TransAD plans to enforce a requirement that operating companies pay for driver permits.
“Some taxi operators, without our knowledge, used to ask the drivers to pay their own permit,” Mr Al Hosani said.
Third, the agency will require companies to provide a minimum of four new uniforms to taxi drivers each year.
Mr Hussain said he receives a new uniform every six months.
“We don’t want uniforms to be worn out, we don’t want uniforms to be wrinkled,” Mr Al Hosani said. “The driver has to feel good while wearing fresh, clean uniforms.”
TransAD also announced a new set of “key performance indicators” for taxi companies.
The system will rate companies based on how long taxis take to reach customers, how many taxis use environmentally-friendly fuel, whether drivers obey traffic laws and how satisfied drivers are with their jobs, among other things.
“Our new KPIs put the driver at the centre of our care,” Mr Al Hosani said.
Each company’s performance will be evaluated based on quarterly reports. If a company does not meet a baseline level, it will face penalties.
“There is a variety of action we can take, starting with fines, even going extreme as to terminate the agreement,” Mr Al Hosani said.
TransAD previously raised taxi fares in February 2009. Before that, daytime flagfalls were Dh2.60 and the per-kilometre rate was 65 fils.
Cost of catching a cab around the emirates:
In Dubai, all taxi rides cost a minimum of Dh10, day or night. For cars that are booked through the call centre, the flagfall is Dh6 during the day and Dh7 at night. For taxis on the street, the flagfall is Dh3 during the day and Dh3.50 at night. The fare per kilometre is Dh1.60, plus a Dh0.50 per minute waiting fee.
Ajman & Sharjah
Taxi fares operate at the same tariff as in Dubai.
In Fujairah there is a minimum cost of Dh5 for a trip. Flagfall costs Dh3 in “local areas”, according to a taxi company representative. In remote areas, flagfall is Dh10. The fare is Dh1 per 750 metres.
Umm Al Quwain
In Umm Al Quwain there are no taxi metres. Fares are negotiable.
Ras Al Khaimah
In Ras Al Khaimah, travel costs Dh2.5 per kilometre and flagfall is Dh3, according to Al Hamra Taxi.
* Vivian Nereim