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Mattar Al Tayer (right) with Mudassir Sheikha (centre) and Bassel Al Nahlaoul, managing director of Careem Gulf, after announcing the partnership with Careem in Dubai. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: Hiring a taxi in five minutes and riding shared taxis will revolutionise the public transport sector in Dubai, enabled by the launch of a new e-hail taxi company in 2019.

Waiting time for taxis in Dubai will be reduced to five minutes when the e-hail taxi company floated by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in partnership with ride-hailing firm Careem becomes operational from April, officials said at a press conference on Sunday.

Commuters will also be able to book shared taxis at a later stage of the company’s operations, they said.

The new e-hail taxi company will be floated in April 2019 to provide online booking services of about 11,000 public taxis in Dubai, Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the board of executive directors of the RTA announced.

“Through this new company, the RTA intends to leverage the taxi sector in Dubai,” he said. “It involves raising the efficiency of taxis in Dubai through enhanced accessibility of vehicles, their online booking and reducing the expected waiting time for the vehicle.

“It also entails a host of advantages for clients, such as making a direct online payment via the app, charting the most suitable journey route, sharing the ride with others, and displaying details of the vehicle and driver,” said Al Tayer.

Adel Shakeri, director of Planning and Business Development at RTA, said the authority had reduced the waiting time for taxis to just 10 minutes, from 15 to 20 minutes a few years ago. “Now our aim is to cut it down to 5 minutes with this service.”

Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder and managing director of Careem, said the services of the new company will be provided through a new feature in the existing ride-hailing app Careem.

In 2016, RTA had started a similar service to enable online booking of limousines in Dubai, in partnership with both Careem and Uber.

Al Tayer said the e-hailing service for limousines will continue with both the service providers. RTA chose Careem over four other global companies to establish the e-hailing taxi service as the authority received the best bid — financial and technological — from the home-grown, Dubai-based company.

“The e-hail of 10,843 taxis will be exclusively run for a limited period by the new company, the name and logo of which will be announced in the future. The new company will start passenger service in April 2019, and the online booking market for about 6,450 limousines will be open for companies operating in the sector without any change,” he said.

No hike in fares

With Careem winning a global bid to provide the e-hailing taxi service, it will have access to a fleet of nearly 17,000 taxis and limousines in Dubai.

The company will also share the revenue of the online-booking service with RTA.

However, officials clarified that there will not be any hike in the taxi booking fares.

Ibrahim Al Haddad, director, commercial and investment, assured that the authority will retain the current tariff for taxi booking services even as the facility will be offered online through the new company.

Adel Shakeri said the option to book shared taxis, which will be added later to the online taxi booking service, will make the rides cheaper.