Latest taxi fare increase in Dubai hits drivers


By Essam al Ghalib

DUBAI //Taxi drivers say the latest fare increase has cut into their tips and made it even more difficult to earn a decent monthly wage.

The 6.8 per cent increase went into effect last Friday, after the taxi franchisees repeatedly complained to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) that increases in the price of fuel in April and August had increased operating costs.

“Over the last period we have faced a serious problem with the franchise companies operating in Dubai,” said Eisa Abdul-Rahman al Dosari, the chief executive of the RTA’s public transport agency.

“These companies complained of the high fuel prices that do not match the current tariff in place, which might result in them incurring losses, or even ceasing business altogether.”

Prior to the increase in fares, travelling one kilometre by taxi cost Dh1.60, but the fare for 1km is now Dh1.71. The flag fare remains at Dh3.

“The increase hasn’t benefited me at all,” said Abdullah Rajab, 39, a Bangladeshi taxi driver. “All the money from the meter goes to the company, not to me. At first I thought this increase would help me reach my target, but then the company raised the target from Dh370 a day to Dh390 a day.”

Ali Wizar, 43, a taxi driver from Pakistan, said that the company he works for, Arabia Taxi, did not increase the daily target for its drivers, but the increase in the meter resulted in him receiving smaller tips.

“A 20km trip across Dubai used to cost passengers Dh35 but now it costs them more than Dh37,” he said. “Before when I drove someone that distance they’d give me Dh40 and tell me to keep the change as a tip. Now I only get a Dh3 tip when they leave me Dh40.

“For my own calculations I put the fare money in an envelope and the tip in my pocket. I noticed that the tips pocket is a little lighter these days.”

Michael Helyer, 37, a consultant from the US who arrived in Dubai four months ago, said the fare rise was hardly worth stressing over. “It’s of no impact to me personally, but I’m sure there are some that would have an issue with it.”

But Maricris, a domestic worker supporting a family of four in the Philippines who did not want to give her last name, said the increase was a blow.

“I calculate my earnings so I don’t run out of money by the end of the month,” she said. “I calculate all my spending. This increase will hit those with a low income hard, such as myself.”