x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai taxis caught breaking the rules

The Roads and Transport Authority acts after a growing number of complaints from the public regarding the city's cab service.

DUBAI // Fourteen taxi drivers face disciplinary action following an undercover operation by the Roads and Transport Authority. Inspectors witnessed cabbies driving recklessly and failing to pick up passengers during the investigation last week, transport officials said yesterday.

More than 20 staff from the RTA's Public Transport Agency posed as passengers. They scrutinised drivers' performances and noted the licence plate number of any taxi that failed to stop to pick up a fare. The inspections came in response to a growing number of complaints regarding the city's taxi services. Mansoor al Falasi, acting director of the agency's franchising and monitoring department, said the 14 drivers faced penalties, including fines, but that none would lose their jobs.

"We have our own regulations and based on them we fire some drivers if they break some of the rules, like being the cause of a big accident [because of dangerous driving] or if they were drunk, for example." Mr al Falasi said driving standards had improved since the RTA started to test taxi drivers last year. Prior to that, many more drivers had been found to be breaking the rules, particularly failing to pick up passengers.

"These still happens but it is not as common as it once was," he added. Last week's clandestine inspections were part of the RTA's plans to improve its services, according to Mr al Falasi, who said similar investigations into the bus service would begin next month. "Sometimes we receive a lot of complaints from customers, and we also get feedback from other departments," in the RTA, he said. Taxi passengers yesterday welcomed the use of undercover inspections to encourage drivers to stick to the rules.

Alice Yates, from the UK, said it was good to see the authorities had taken complaints seriously. "I hate it when I have to stand by the side of the road while taxis drive past with their lights on and refuse to pick me up. "Other times, when they stop, they refuse to take me short distances. They only do that at night," she added.   Karen Mitchell, also from the UK, said the service had improved over the past two years, although she believed there were still a few problems with drivers.

"It still needs some improvement, like their manners, and sometimes they don't listen to directions. Sometimes, they only listen if you shout," Ms Mitchell said. She said the RTA's speedy response to public anger about the taxi service was a good sign. "I've never complained directly to the RTA but I should do it if it will make a difference." eharnan@thenational.ae