x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Cab-sharing in Abu Dhabi allowed for single-fare journeys

Multiple drop-offs are allowed provided the meter is left running and not stopped and restarted each time a customer got out, confirms TransAD

Taxis in Abu Dhabi are allowed to drop off more than one customer as long as it is during a single-fare journey.

The rule has been confirmed by the company that regulates cabs in the capital, TransAD, and is similar to a policy in Dubai set out by the Roads and Transport Authority.

In a written response to questions from The National, TransAD confirmed that multiple drops on journeys were not allowed if it meant the meter would be stopped and restarted each time a customer got out.

"In general, the taxi industry allows for multiple drops only to the group of passengers - family, friends, people working in the same organisation, etc - starting their ride from one location and drop off in a different location by considering it a single ride without restarting the meter until the end of the final destination," TransAD said.

The policy has been in operation since the silver taxis were launched in 2007.

Drivers who do not follow the procedure risk a fine and black points on their licence.

"Sharing the taxi ride by people who are not known to each other is not permitted and punishable. Any taxi driver found doing so will be issued a violation ticket," TransAD said. "The fine amount for such a violation is Dh1,000, along with 20 black points."

Inspectors conduct random checks and use mystery shoppers to pose as fare-paying customers.

The rules apply throughout the emirate and were welcomed by customers.

Ashvith Naki, 25, an Indian expatriate who works as a catering supervisor in Abu Dhabi, said: "It [multiple drop-offs] is a good idea - it's far cheaper to share a taxi. And I do not see the problem with not stopping and starting a meter."

Imran Khan, 25, a taxi driver from Pakistan, has worked in Abu Dhabi for seven years. He said he was aware of the rules about multiple taxi drop-offs.

"It is a good idea," he said. "It keeps it simple."

Taxis in Dubai work under a similar policy, with drivers who break the rules also facing fines.

Despite initial confusion, the Roads and Transport Authority clarified the rules by saying that more than one customer could be dropped off in a shared taxi provided the last passenger paid for the journey.

It was problematic only if the meter was stopped and restarted each time a customer was dropped off.

"Two friends can share a cab and can be dropped off … at two points en route as long as the person getting off last pays for the entire journey," said Dr Yousif Al Ali, chief executive of the Public Transport Agency.

Only Al Madina Taxis had permission to operate shared cabs, and only on specific routes in Dubai where there was no access to alternative public transport.

The company has been operating since 2006.

Drivers who dropped passengers off at more than one destination on the same fare faced a Dh2,000 fine and possible dismissal, the Dubai authority said.

nhanif@thenational.ae