Dubai: Metro commuters now have the luxury of a taxi waiting for them before they step out of stations as the Roads and Transport Authority's (RTA) new taxi booking system is live.
Under the system passengers can book a taxi via SMS, which will then be confirmed by a reply. The system works through a unique code assigned to every station on the Red and Green lines, which determines where a taxi is required.
"Every station has a unique code number, which is mentioned at the entrance of the stations. Passengers requesting a taxi should SMS the code and other details of the station to 4774 and a taxi will arrive within minutes," said Eisa Abdul Rahman Al Dossary, CEO of the RTA's Public Transport Agency.
For a successful booking, the SMS should follow a particular pattern with required details properly keyed in.
"To book a taxi a person has to type details of the station where they want the taxi, like ‘R' or ‘G' for Red line or Green line, the code number of the station and the entrance number of the station.
"The details should be sent without any space between them to 4774. A confirmation will be sent to the passenger instantly and a taxi will arrive in minutes," said Al Dossary.
The service is currently available only for etisalat users. Du customers will have to wait for some time to access it.
Adel Mohammad Shakeri, Director of the Transportation System Department at the Public Transport Agency, said the system scans for all taxis within a 500-metre range of the station in question and dispatches the one which is the nearest.
"We have ensured that the passenger has the least amount of waiting time and that is why we have involved all the franchises. The system doesn't discriminate between DTC [Dubai Taxi Corporation] taxis and other franchise taxis — whichever is closest will be dispatched immediately," he said.
The service does not cost extra — only SMS and taxi fares will be applicable. "Our plan is to use the latest and the best in the world, in terms of technology and services. Our efforts so far have been fruitful and it is reflected in the results we have had over the last couple of years," said Shakeri.
One of the several new projects that the RTA is implementing on a larger scale is Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI), which is already available on the Metro, but in the next couple of months it will be installed in bus stops and bus stations.
"We are installing LCD screens at 46 bus stops which will provide real-time information to passengers about buses, like when they will arrive, where they are currently.
"Another 34 screens will be installed at bus stations," said Shakeri, The technology will later be available on mobile phones, which will allow a commuter to get bus information via SMS.
Another key project the RTA is working on is having Wi-Fi connectivity on buses. The authority will soon launch a pilot of the project with all intercity buses and all buses could be Wi-Fi-enabled by next year.