ABU DHABI // Gold-and-white taxis will disappear from the streets of Abu Dhabi next year.
Fewer than 800 of the original 8,000 remain in the emirate, and the drivers' permits will expire on December 31.
Each cab is sponsored by an Emirati owner. Drivers pay the sponsor a monthly fee and keep the rest of their earnings.
TransAD started phasing out the taxis in 2007 and introduced franchise taxi companies. The authority will compensate licence owners, paying Dh1,000 to each for 25 years. Drivers can sell their licence to TransAD for Dh100,000 from next year.
TransAD will not offer any compensation to the drivers.
"But we are offering the drivers to join the franchises," said Mohammed Al Hosani, TransAD director of franchise and licensing.
Drivers who do not read Arabic or English will not be eligible to join, he said.
The old taxis are loved and hated by passengers for their personalised interiors and bargained fares. Drivers choose their own hours, their own lodgings and, often, their customers.
Passengers are urged to book taxis in advance to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions, said Mr Al Hosani. Currently, only 2 per cent of taxi rides are pre-booked.
Abu Dhabi has a fleet of 7,147 taxis that can be booked by calling 600 535353.