Cabs play hard to get

SHARJAH — It seems to have gone to their heads — the exclusive tag. Metered taxis in Sharjah are refusing to drive passengers to destinations if it is just a short distance away.


Asma Ali Zain

Published: Sun 14 Aug 2005, 10:16 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:13 PM

The "sorry" comes with a shrug. A far cry from the not-so-distant past when private taxi drivers would fight among themselves to transport a man for the distance of just a 100 metres. But then for them distance did not matter — 100 metres or 1,000 metres, the fare came to the same, Dh5.

Commuters are already harking back to those "good ol' days". Metered taxis, they say, are proving to be a burden on their pockets.

"Everyday I have to wait for a long time, at times for hours, before I find a taxi to take me home because several drivers refuse, saying that they cannot engage their taxis for a short distance,” moans Reshma, a domestic help, who works in a house on Immigration Road but stays near Jamal Abdul Nasser Street. “Finally, I have to trudge home on foot in the sweltering heat. In the mornings, I am invariably late for work and my employers are upset because of that. Before the introduction of metered taxis, I used to pay Dh5 one way and sometimes even less if the distance was shorter.”

According to Fatima, a part-time helper, travelling in metered taxis is proving to be expensive.

"Initially, when these taxis were being introduced, we were told that they would be to our benefit — cheaper and cleaner. But now I have realised that they are proving to be too much for our pockets. I will have to find work nearer to home,” she said, adding that the cost of living was rising at an alarming rate.

“My landlord has increased the room rent. Electricity and water bills are prohibitive. And I am spending almost Dh6-10 daily on taxi fare. I do not know how to manage my budget when I am earning only Dh1,000 per month,” she said.

Metered taxis have also put an end to that cheaper means of travel — "share" taxis.

“Earlier I used to travel to Dubai in a share taxi. Now they are hard to find. There are long queues of people waiting for one,” said Mohammed Khan, a carpenter. “Buses are a better option but they take too much travel time,” he added.

Officials of the Sharjah Transport Corporation (STC) say that out of the 5,400 private taxis operating in Sharjah, the corporation had last year phased out a total of 3,000, and was in the process of replacing them with 3,000 taxis operated by four franchise companies. This year 2,400 taxis would be gradually phased out.

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