Dubai taxi fare hike on New Year's Eve: All you need to know

‘Dynamic fares’ will be applicable on both regular metered taxis and Hala taxi services

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Angel Tesorero

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Published: Sat 30 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 31 Dec 2023, 3:10 PM

Minimum fare for a taxi ride at certain locations in Dubai will go up from Dh12 to Dh20 at certain times during major events, beginning on New Year’s Eve, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced on Friday.

Aside from the change in flag-down or flagfall rate (the initial charge incurred at the start of a taxi journey), ‘dynamic fares’ will also be applicable on both regular metered taxis and Hala taxi services.

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Khaleej Times is giving you the low-down on these changes.

What is dynamic pricing?

It’s called 'dynamic' because fare fluctuates based on demand. This usually happens during rush hour when more people are on the road and there is high demand for transportation. More passengers means more traffic and the fare goes up to compensate for the time and petrol (or electricity for electric vehicles) that will be used to transport people.

The fare increase, however, is temporary. Fares are cheaper during the day when there is less demand.

Normally, dynamic pricing system is applicable only for taxis booked via ride-hailing apps with a pre-determined route, and the passenger will be notified upfront of the fare surge. People who hail a cab on the street may not be completely aware of the dynamic pricing system. They are also urged to use the app as it is always harder to get a taxi on the road during rush hour.

“Considering the New Year Eve’s road closure plans, fare changes can be anticipated in and around locations where fireworks displays are scheduled,” RTA noted.

Where and when are the fare changes applicable?

The taxi fare hike on New Year’s Eve is not city-wide. The RTA specifically announced that minimum taxi fare will only increase in and around locations in Dubai where there is a fireworks display.

The new flagfall rate is applicable for both regular metered taxis and those booked online. Dynamic fares – which can go up to two times the original prices – will be applicable only on New Year's Eve from 6pm on Sunday, December 31, to 6am the following day. And only at the following fireworks locations: Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab, Hatta, Al Seef, Bluewaters, The Beach, and Global Village.

This means when you book a taxi online on Sunday morning and your pick-up point is Dubai Mall, the starting price will still be Dh12. But if you book between 6pm (December 31) and 6am (January 1) from Dubai Mall, the fixed initial charge at the start of your taxi trip is Dh20.

Be ready to spend more on taxis after watching the fireworks. For example, if you are coming from Al Barsha 1, the 15km taxi ride going to Burj Khalifa will cost you between Dh50 and Dh60. But when you go back home, there is already a Dh8 hike in the flag-down rate (from Dh12 to Dh20) and your total fare will go up more because of the dynamic pricing, depending on the traffic situation.

There is, however, no increase in the flag-down rate when you book a taxi anywhere aside from the above-mentioned places. Meaning, flag-down rate for passengers who will be picked up from Mall of the Emirates or Times Square, Deira City Centre, or their residence will still be Dh12.

Will the Dh20 minimum fare still be applicable after New Year?

Yes. According to RTA, the introduction of new flag down rates for both regular-metered taxis and Hala Taxi service will be applicable during major event days, exhibitions and international conventions at locations including World Trade Centre, Expo City, and Global Village.

RTA said in a statement: “Through these changes, (we aim) to continuously improve and develop both regular taxi services and the e-hail ride of Hala Taxi, especially during major events like New Year's Eve, which typically sees a significant increase in demand for taxi services from residents, visitors, and tourists travelling to Dubai from all over the world.”

Dynamic pricing is actually not new and it has always been applied by taxi companies. Taxi rates in Dubai depend on the taxi type, pick-up location, trip duration and distance travelled. The normal minimum taxi fare or flag down rate for booking online is Dh12 with additional Dh1.97 per km. Fare for Dubai airport taxis starts at Dh25; while cabs hailed on the road will have varying flag-down rates ranging from Dh5 during non-peak to Dh9 during peak hours.

Are there alternatives for commuters to save money?

Yes. Dubai’s public transport system is developed and well-connected. Commuters will be happy to note that both Dubai Metro and Tram will run non-stop for 40 hours from 8am on December 31 until the end of January 1 for the Metro and from 9am (December 31) until 1am on January 2 for the Tram.

The RTA is also planning to add a fleet of 230 buses that will be made available to the public free of charge on New Year’s Eve to have transport options and minimise traffic congestion.

Dubai Metro is likewise the best and most convenient option going to and from World Trade Centre, Expo City and Dubai Mall as they all have their own Metro stations.

There are four dedicated bus routes serving visitors to Global Village for its 2023-24 season and the fare of a single trip to Global Village is Dh10.

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