Taxi drivers feel the pinch

Some say their profits are taking a hit as fewer customers are taking a ride.

Image Credit:Gulf News archive
Many taxi drivers are unable to meet their daily targets as fewer passengers are hailing cabs in these days of the economic downturn.
Gulf News

Dubai: It seems like the economic slump is also catching up with cab drivers in Dubai and the northern emirates as a majority are complaining that they are struggling to get passengers and are failing to meet their daily targets.

Many of them said that the number of trips they make each day is directly linked to their commission.

They said they are earning less now due to the lower number of passengers.

On the other hand, passengers are happy as taxis are now available in abundance. Cab drivers said that the dearth of passengers has been witnessed since the beginning of this year.

One driver said he has to make approximately 20 to 22 trips to meet his daily targets.

He said he fears that the situation may become grim as the year progresses.

The targets vary from one taxi company to another.

For example, a cab driver from Dubai Taxi said that he earns 35 per cent in commissions if he meets a target of Dh370 per day and 30 per cent in commissions if he meets a target of Dh320 per day.

"We get passengers who travel short distances but they are not enough if we want to meet our target each day. For example, since the beginning of this month in a 12-hour duty [session] I try to make more than 20 trips or so to earn my commission," said a cab driver.

According to him, he was able to make about Dh400 a day last year. "I used to get lot of passengers for Jebel Ali, Sharjah, Al Ain and Hatta, but now I find they are fewer in number," he said.

Another taxi driver from one of the franchised taxi companies raised similar concerns, saying that the lack of passengers does not surprise him.

He said: "Everywhere you go nowadays you get to hear that people are losing their jobs.

Dubai-Sharjah bus

"The emphasis is more on saving and so people are now opting for other public transport services like the bus and are sharing cabs," he said.

According to him his company has kept a 30 per cent commission for a target of Dh300 per day and 35 per cent if they meet a target of Dh350 per day.

Another reason that is contributing to the lack of passengers is the Dh20 starting fare for passengers to Sharjah, said the driver.

"There is a bus service running from Sharjah to Dubai and Dubai to Sharjah, so why should a passenger spend an extra Dh20 to travel to Dubai by taxi? It does not make sense," he said.

"When I observed a drop in passengers in December last year, I initially thought that it must be due to the vacation period of schools and the festive season, but I was a bit surprised when things did not pick up as they were expected to at the beginning of this year," he said.

While the cab drivers had numerous concerns about meeting their targets, residents expressed relief at being able to get taxis without having to wait for a long time. But the taxi companies when contacted denied there had been a decline in the number of passengers.

Availability: Residents happy

Residents who use taxis are all smiles.

"The situation has changed. It seems there are many more taxis on the road as they are easily available now," said one resident.

Some said they were relieved they no longer had to pay Salik for Dubai registered taxis.

"I used to have a tough time hiring a taxi until December last year. But for some reason these days I get a taxi in no time. This is something that I thought was impossible in Dubai. I am happy and I don't care to think about the reason behind it," said Dana Hussain, a Lebanese.

"I carry a dozen mobile numbers with me so that I can call them [taxis] up if I urgently needed to go somewhere. But these days I don't face any problem getting a taxi even if I want to travel a short distance," said Mumtaz Junaid Ali, a Pakistani. The total number of taxis in Dubai is about 7,000.

Do you agree that there are too many taxis? Do you think nobody makes an attempt to understand the woes of taxi drivers? Who do you think is responsible for their problems?

Your comments

It is true that the situation has changed due to the financial crisis which has affected everyone. It is not that we have too many taxis but there was a drop in number of passengers because of the cost cutting.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 10:32

I am very happy that there are more taxis on the road now. Getting a taxi was an absolute nightmare. I am thankful to the authorities.
Rita Lopes
Posted: January 07, 2009, 10:22

There are several reasons why the taxis may be failing to reach their quota at the moment.The weather is very cool and excellent for walking and jogging. This is true especially when going to work and coming home. People can now walk to the bus station and walk on for some distance without the need of taxis. Secondly, there have been big improvements in both the quality and service of buses in Dubai and within the entire UAE particularly between emirates. Thirdly, many people are losing their jobs. How can they afford to take the taxi?
Arlene Castillo
Posted: January 07, 2009, 10:22

I am no longer using taxi services due to the poor attitude of most of taxi drivers.They are choosy when it comes to who they pick up or where they go.I strongly believe this is one of the reasons why the taxi business is dropping. My suggestion is to send all drivers to some traning programs to improve their attitude.
Henry Lim
Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia
Posted: January 07, 2009, 10:21

People are not travelling by taxis not just because of the crunch but because they are sick of the fact that no one stops. I still don't get cabs even if I order them on the phone.
Anthony Permal
Posted: January 07, 2009, 10:19

Well if they would only stop , they could get a hire. Also,most of them are looking for long trips.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 10:17

They are responsible for their problems. Most of them are arrogant and try to choose where they want to take a passenger.
Lari Diamat
Posted: January 07, 2009, 10:09

How about they start picking up all passangers? Maybe that would help them meet daily targets. Inspite all these problems that they face taxi drivers want to be picky in choosing passangers. They still seem to avoid trafic areas and prefer to drive empty taxis more than those with passangers.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 09:47

I don't think there are too many taxis. Before getting my driver's license, getting a taxi had always been a nightmare. I believe that the economic crisis is just temporary, so there must be a plan to increase the taxis more.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 09:38

I think it is time that taxi drivers change their attitude. I know of many instances when taxi drivers discriminated against their passengers based on ethnic background or distance of journey. Drivers have to accept passengers even for short trips, especially during summer time. It's time to be fair.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 09:37

Taxis are easily available nowadays.There was a time when I used to wait for hours for a taxi and if I did find one by chance, they would first ask where I was heading to and only if the distance was long, they would allow me to sit.Many have lost their jobs. People have stopped regular roaming and shopping. Also, many have left the country.
Ramona Caeiro
Posted: January 07, 2009, 09:27

I still feel that the number of taxis on the road are less. These drivers are feeling the pinch due to the economic downturn. However, the same taxi drivers were happy when there was an abundance of passengers and it was they who decided whom to ferry. I myself had to wait for an hour for a cab and many drivers refused due to short distances or under the pretext of "traffic jam".
Posted: January 07, 2009, 09:19

I had several bitter experiences while waiting for taxis.Sometimes they wont even look at us. Many times I saw women with children waving their hands at the empty taxis but the drivers were arrogant.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 09:16

I still see drivers being choosy. The day before, when a woman signalled to an empty taxi, he rolled down his window and shook his head and left upon hearing the destination.
Stanley Cherian
Posted: January 07, 2009, 09:15

It is a tricky case. You can't blame taxi companies for not reducing their targets as now everyone is concerned about keeping businesses on the go. On the other hand we should also understand that taxi drivers are not doing so well now.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:59

It is good that people are facing less trouble in finding a taxi.
Mohammad K
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:37

What goes around, comes around. There was a time when; if one begged a taxi driver, he would still refuse to go to a certain area. Now I guess it is the other way around judging from the number of taxis that slow down without being hailed.
Jennifer G
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:36

The situation really changed. More people opted to spend reasonably especially with the current recession. Each one of us should be wise when deciding how to spend our money as we do not know what tomorrow will hold for us. As for the taxi from Sharjah to Dubai, I believe it is very unreasonable of taxis to charge Dh20 where they know that buses are available.
N Hegg
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:33

One thing that lead to this is the loss of trust of the customers. Before, I used to travel by taxi from Deira to DIFC on a regular basis. Some of them are very picky in terms of travel destinations. All I can say is, whenever you needed them most, they were not there or they just ignored you.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:33

They say you reap what you sow. Till recently I was staying in Karama and I was on the receiving end of the wait for taxis as I had to wait for long hours to get a taxi.On a more serious note this was expected as the earnings have declined but to me this is a blessing in disguise for commuters who can get taxis more easily.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:33

The taxi companies should decrease the daily quota set for taxi drivers. With the increasing unemployment, Dubai will get emptier and emptier atleast till the mid of next year. Taxi companies should keep this trend in mind and consider the welfare of their employees and the families these employees support.
Sheraz Khan
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:31

Taxis are still not available in Naif area. Getting a taxi is still a nightmare. Some taxi drivers only want long trips. They dont even stop or listen to people who wants to go to nearby places.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:28

This is a classic example of recession that persists in the local market and is hitting all categories of people. Many people have left the country and others are with the hanging sword. Traffic on the road itself talks it all. Naturally everyone is more conservative with spending.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:27

Send some of the Dubai taxis to Abu Dhabi. It is very very difficult to get a taxi when you want one here!
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:22

We have the opposite problem in Abu Dhabi. It is impossible to find a taxi especially during peak times in the early morning and in the evening. Maybe they can send some of those Dubai taxis to Abu Dhabi!
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:20

Some taxi drivers refuse to drop passengers in the traffic area and ask the passenger where they want to go before they let them in.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:13

This is the good lesson the taxi drivers should learn from. When the economy was ok, if you try to stop a taxis they will not stop despite the light being on showing the taxi is available. Some of the taxi drivers stopped and asked you where you were going. This is a lesson for those taxis.
Omar Ahmad
Posted: January 07, 2009, 08:12

The taxi service is better than before.
Rene Philip
Posted: January 07, 2009, 07:49

Economic slow down is also a reason as the tourists in Dubai have comparatively decreased. Secondly being Christmas, many people were out of UAE on vacations so the demand for taxis went down. Within a month, it will be back to normal.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 07:30

I can sympathise with them,however, Dh20 is too much for a ride from Sharjah to Dubai. Also,with the traffic congestion it takes a taxi hours to reach the destination.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 07:21

Surely, passengers are happy because there will be no more wasting of time on road sides as they will get taxis quickly. This situation is comfortable for the passengers.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 07:16

For the past few years it has been very difficult to get a cab. Now it is much better. The taxi companies should also bear some of the hardship -we all are.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 05:25

It was very tough to get a cab especially in evenings. Some cab drivers ask where you want to go and if it is nearby they dont take you.
Posted: January 07, 2009, 02:20