Abu Dhabi: Last year, a whopping 8,900 cell phones were mistakenly left behind in Abu Dhabi’s public taxis, a transport official said in the capital on Monday.
The commuters also left behind 3,353 wallets, 2,498 handbags, as well as ATM cards, sunglasses, keys and medicines in the cabs, said Khowla Al Daheri, call centre head at the Integrated Transport Centre, which regulates taxi and limousine operations in the emirate.
“We even found 23 umbrellas. Fortunately, in 1,677 instances of items left behind in public taxis, the items were returned to their rightful owners,” Al Daheri told Gulf News.
These rightful handovers made up 57 per cent of all lost-item reports in taxis.
“In nearly 85 per cent of cases, we successfully manage to track down the taxi [passengers], but the return rate is lower because items are sometimes taken by other passengers before they are reported as lost, or they have actually been left behind elsewhere. This is why we always urge greater vigilance among customers,” Al Daheri told Gulf News.
The centre, formerly known as TransAD, currently manages the services of a fleet of 7,645 taxis, which undertook 73.4 million trips between them last year.
Al Daheri was speaking to Gulf News following the launch of its updated smartphone application for booking taxi services. The update includes a number of new features, and these will allow customers to complete more transactions without having to contact the call centre.
For instance, commuters can report lost items through the application, including details like pickup and drop-off location and the fare paid. They also still have access to a fare calculator that provides information on how much a trip is likely to cost. Tariffs for taxi use at different times of the day are also specified, and about 40 of the most common queries are answered in an FAQ section, including how to cancel a taxi booking and how to register a complaint.
“If you book a taxi through the app, you can also see a history of previous bookings, and through this, you can rate the trip and driver as well. In addition, customers can get a copy of their receipt,” Al Daheri said.
The taxi regulator’s call centre receives about 20,000 calls everyday, which are fielded by a team of 36 agents.
“Call centre agents currently undertake about 80 per cent of all customer interactions, but we have also found that customers however prefer quick, automated services when they call in. This is why we hope that the use of the smartphone application will soon increase to represent up to 70 per cent of all interactions,” she said.