x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Sharjah increases taxi fares to offset costs

Transport authority says it accepted request from franchised companies in order to help them develop services in the emirate.

In Sharjah, a dirham will not take you quite as far as it used to. Taxis in the emirate now charge one dirham for every 650 metres travelled, up from the old rate of one dirham per 800 metres. The result is an average increase of Dh1.50 per trip, according to transport officials.

"The amendment [was made] at the request of the franchised taxi companies to meet the increasing costs of operations," said Mahmoud al Hosni, a spokesman for Sharjah Transport. "The board of directors accepted this request in order to help the companies develop public transport services in the emirate." The increase amounts to an extra 28 fils per kilometre. Mr al Hosni said the change was part of an ongoing evaluation to provide suitable pricing for taxi service. Last April, fares were increased by 50 fils at flag drop, to Dh3 during the day and Dh4 at night.

Mr al Hosni said public buses were a good option for people who cannot afford taxis. "The good thing is that the increases come when there is public transport like buses that are relatively cheaper and environment friendly," he said. "In any case, the buses could also help reduce traffic congestion." Saeed Khan, a driver with Advantage Taxi, said his income has slipped because of the financial crisis, and he does not expect the increase to help. "I know many of my regular customers who lost their jobs and left the country. The authorities should understand this and don't burden people more."

Mr Khan is expected to make Dh350 every day for his company, but recently has only been making between Dh200 and Dh250. He said the fare increase could actually lower his income, if it results in fewer people using taxis. "If it was before, it would have been fair to increase the fares, but now there is competition from buses and authorities have not yet managed to stop private car lifts," he said.

Noor Habib Khan, a driver with Citi Taxi, said he almost had a fight with a customer when the new fares started on Monday. "The customer was used to paying the Dh12 [for his commute]. "This time he had to pay Dh15.50 and he started quarrelling, thinking I had played with the meter," he said. "I think the authorities should first announce the increment before actually increasing."