x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Taxi fares leap 30% in Abu Dhabi

A taxi fare rise, which takes effect from Sunday, is designed to streamline pricing and combat meter fraud.

Abu Dhabi's taxi rates are currently the lowest in the Gulf region, according to the taxi regulator.
Abu Dhabi's taxi rates are currently the lowest in the Gulf region, according to the taxi regulator.

ABU DHABI // Fares for silver cabs will rise significantly on Sunday as part of changes designed to streamline pricing and combat meter fraud, TransAD said on Thursday. Daytime starting fares will increase to Dh3 (US$0.82) from Dh2.60, while the per-kilometre rate will rise by 54 per cent, to Dh1 from 65 fils. Fares for Abu Dhabi's gold and white cabs, which will be phased out by 2012, will not change. Pensioners and people with special needs will be entitled to half-price travel, subsidised by the Government, and the pricing system for journeys outside the capital will be scrapped. Instead of paying double the meter fare, long-distance travellers will pay Dh1 per kilometre for the first 50kms and Dh1.5 per kilometre thereafter. The current airport surcharge of Dh10 will be abolished, but the rate for waiting time will go up. Passengers will now pay 50 fils per minute for waits of more than five minutes, rather than 25 fils for waits longer than 10 minutes. Abdullah Sultan al Sabbagh, general manager of TransAD, the Government taxi regulator, listed a number of reasons for the fare adjustments. "The new tariffs will eliminate the abuse of the meter," he said. "All the driver has to do now is switch the meter on and off. Rather than the driver setting tariffs at different times of the day or for different journeys, everything will be calculated automatically. There has been a problem with drivers abusing the system, but I wouldn't call it a big problem." Passengers travelling at night will pay a starting fare of Dh3.60, then Dh1.20 per kilometre. "We want drivers to provide a service 24 hours a day," Mr al Sabbagh said, "so at night we have a different rate to make it more attractive for drivers to work at night." Daytime rates are in effect from 6am to 10pm, with night rates applying at all other times. Noting that fares in Abu Dhabi were the lowest in the GCC nations, Mr al Sabbagh said: "It is time we brought them into line with rates in other countries. The new tariffs will only make a small difference to the actual fares. Each trip will only cost passengers around two dirhams more." He estimated the impact of the new fares to be "an overall 30 per cent increase per trip". In addition to offering 50 per cent discounts to people over 60 and those with special needs, the Government will subsidise fares for other needy people, including divorcees and widows, through special welfare cards that can be swiped through the meter. Drivers who take passengers claiming a discount will receive a 25 per cent fare bonus as an incentive. "It can take more time to help a person with a physical disability into and out of a taxi,'' Mr al Sabbagh said, "so the extra money for the drivers is designed to take account of that.'' Drivers of the more than 3,000 silver cabs welcomed the news. "The best part of the new tariffs is the change to the waiting-time rates," said Mohammed Mifraz, 25, from Sri Lanka, who has been working in the city since April. "The traffic in Abu Dhabi is very bad and I spend a lot of time waiting at traffic lights. Sometimes you can sit in traffic for half an hour and only make five dirhams. Its terrible." Another Sri Lankan driver, Mohamed Irshad, 31, said: "It is a good idea to give something extra for drivers who pick up old people. Some drivers I know, if they see old people or a disabled person they don't stop because they know they will need help getting into the taxi and it will take a long time." The Dh5 charge for taxis booked through the TransAD call centre will continue. In Dubai, meters start at Dh3 during the day, and Dh3.50 at night, then increase by Dh1.60 per kilometre. chamilton@thenational.ae