Dubai // The number of complaints against Dubai Taxi agency drivers fell five per cent last year from 2007, according to a senior official at the agency. "Customer satisfaction, which is the most important aspect, underwent remarkable development," said Ahmed al Hammadi, director of resources and support department at Dubai Taxi.
The most common complaints were drivers refusing to pick up passengers, bad driving habits and driver misconduct. The taxi agency also received complaints about drivers refusing to start their meters. Mr al Hammadi attributed the decrease in complaints to measures taken by the company such as expanding its fleet to accommodate more passengers, intensifying mystery rider campaigns, and operating the taxi office at Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport.
However, some taxi customers said they found the figures hard to believe. "They are usually good but the main problem I have is when they don't stop for me," said Mohammed Emran, from Pakistan, who was in Dubai for a month on business. "It's worse when it happens in the morning because I have to be somewhere for a meeting and to rely on a taxi is not good." David Cleary, who has been in Dubai for two years, did not have a car for one of them.
"I didn't know how much of an advantage it was to have a car until I got one. "For a year, I travelled everywhere in a taxi," he said. He said most of the problems he encountered on his taxi travels were because of poor driving. "The drivers themselves are good because they work hard and are behind the wheel for hours at a time. "Obviously they will lose concentration and want to get around quicker but their driving skills are the problem," he said.
Most of the drivers, he said, come from countries where driving skills would not be up to European standards. "Tailgating is horrifying, and sometimes I have to tell the driver to pull back or slow down," said Alice Montgomery, another taxi user. "I've never made a formal complaint about taxis because I either forget about it once I leave the car or just let it go." "We have never said we had a perfect business, but if you look all over the world, taxis are always going to be problem," said Peyman Younes Parham, director of the marketing and corporate communications department at Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
Last year, the RTA introduced a number of programmes for taxi drivers, including classes on hygiene and general appearance. Mr Parham said RTA drivers "go through a rigorous training programme before and after they start driving for us. "But there are still bound to be some drivers who do break the rules. "We ask people to get the number of the taxi on the side and contact the RTA." firstname.lastname@example.org