SHARJAH — The advance cab booking will soon be available round the clock instead of 16 hours a day in Sharjah, as per a plan under study by the emirate’s transport corporation.
The service, being provided by 10 male and female employees on two eight-hour shifts, is now available from 7am to 11pm. The staff strength will be increased to 20 to man the call centre 24/7, according to Mohammed Alburaimi, Internal Vehicle Devices (IVD) project manager, Sharjah Transport.
The service launched on January 15 this year has seen a huge demand. The call centre, which is reachable at 600545455, has processed 3,552 cab bookings from January15 to March 31.
The automatic booking service — worth Dh30 million — is part of the Sharjah Transport’s efforts to evolve its systems and provide a more convenient and attractive service to the public. Passengers across the city may avail the service which is connected to the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) against Dh5.
The new automatic booking gadgets, known as IVDs, are now fitted in 2,800 cabs —65 per cent of the taxis with the five franchise firms operating in Sharjah city. “These include 457 vehicles of the government-owned Sharjah Taxi’s 1,150 cabs, and 2,343 of the 4,464 vehicles of Emirates, Advantage, Union and Citi cab companies,” Al Buraimi told Khaleej Times.
“The nearly 30-40 minute wait time for a taxi will significantly drop to average 10-15 minutes,” he added.
Fitting the IVDs is now expected to be completed by November though it was earlier announced to be completed by August 1.
The Booking Centre has attended to 3,412 calls in 59 days. “Most of these were bookings, particularly during weekends and peak hours — from 11am to 1pm and from 5pm to 9pm — while the others were just enquiries about the new service.”
Explaining, Al Buraimi said once a passenger calls the centre, the dispatch system saves the caller’s number so that he/she does not need to give the details of the location unless going somewhere else, and then press 2.
“They shall then be connected to a customer service staff member to book a new destination. This is a good option which saves time and effort, particularly for regular commuters,” he said.
Meanwhile, the advance booking system is now available for the eight-seat cabs. “This is an advantage for families, picnickers, long-distance travellers, and passengers with many bags,” he said, adding that cabs with more privacy for families and trips would be available in the second stage of the project.