- By Mariam M. Al Serkal, Staff Reporter www.gulfnews.com
Sharjah: The transport authority in Sharjah on Saturday announced that they would launch a hotline in the beginning of 2011, enabling residents to reserve a taxi at their own convenience.
The project, which includes equipping taxis with a global positioning system (GPS) and a general packet radio service (GPRS), cost a total of Dh30 million. “So far, we have installed more than 700 devices that will facilitate the process in reserving and distributing taxis. The installation process of the GPS and GPRS is expected to be completed in all 4,860 taxis by the end of 2010,” said Abdullah Al Zari, Director General of Sharjah Transport.
Once the devices are installed, Al Zari said Sharjah Transport will start focusing on the launch of a reservations hotline and through using the GPRS device, will enable taxis to be evenly distributed to various areas of the city.
“The service of reserving a taxi is expected to launch sometime during the first quarter of next year, and will enable residents to book a taxi by contacting a call centre,” said Al Zari.
Ibtissam Al Obaidly, Director of Information Technology at Sharjah Transport, told Gulf News that the reservations call centre will operate 16 hours per day, seven days a week, between two shifts.
“When the project launches, ten operators will be allocated for each eight-hour shift. But after a few months we expect to reach the project’s second phase, and the call centre will then function for 24 hours straight,” Ibtissam explained.
The operators at the call centre will then reserve a taxi that is closest to the customer’s location, and taxi drivers will then use the shortest route to the customer’s destination by using the help of the GPS device.
“Once the service of a reservations centre is launched, it will ultimately be beneficial to our customers. Passengers will no longer have to wait for a long time to find a taxi, and taxis will not have to double park or stop abruptly in the middle of the road in order to pick up a passenger,” said Mohammad Abdullah, Project Manager, Reservation and Distribution Department at Sharjah Transport.
“Traffic congestion will also be eased because taxis will be circulating smoothly around the city,” he said.
The Reservations Hotline number at Sharjah Transport, 600 54 54 55, will be activated within the first four months of 2011.