Dubai: Minimum fare for a taxi ride in Dubai has been increased from Dh10 to Dh12 starting from December 7.

The change in minimum fare comes close on the heels of the increase in the flag-down rates that began on December 1.

The flag-down rates increased from Dh3 to Dh5, while the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) also revised the basic charges for booking taxis. The non-peak hour bookings now cost Dh8, up from Dh6, and peak hour bookings cost Dh12, up from Dh10.

From Saturday to Wednesday the peak hours are set from 7am to 10am, and 4pm to 8pm.

On Thursdays and Fridays the evening peak hours are set from 4pm to 12 midnight.

Dr Yousuf Ali, CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency, said that the rates are being revised to improve services and will be applicable to all taxi franchises in Dubai.

“We are upgrading our services and the taxi meters are being updated. The rates were revised starting from December 1, however the minimum fare increase came into effect only this week,” said Al Ali.

He added that the idea behind the increase in taxi fares is to encourage people to use public transport.

“RTA wants more people to use public transport. It is better if there are fewer cars on the road, be it taxis or private vehicles,” he said.

However, he said the taxi meter tariff remains unchanged, which is Dh1.71 per kilometre.

Al Ali insisted taxi fares in Dubai are one of the cheapest when compared with other major cities in the world.

As part of the taxi service upgrade, he said, the taxi fleet is being integrated with the Nol network, and cash-less travel on taxis will be possible soon.

“Payment of taxi fares through Nol and credit card is already live in airport taxis, while a significant number of regular taxis have also been upgraded,” he said.

He added that taxi meters are being upgraded gradually and by mid-2015 commuters will have an option of paying through Nol and credit cards on all taxis.

Last month, RTA made changes to public transport fares as well, while the Nol packages were also restructured to go with the launch of Dubai Tram.

Hajji Farkan, a taxi driver in Dubai, said the hike in fares has not had any major impact in demand for the service.

“I can’t see any major impact on demand for taxis because of increase in flag off rates or minimum fares. Most of the customers don’t bother if they are paying two dirhams extra. However, overall, the demand for taxis has slowed down over the last couple of months. I feel there are not as many tourists as there used to be during this time of the year,” said Farkan, who has been driving taxis for the last five years.

Another taxi driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said there has been no change to the way they worked. “It doesn’t make any difference to us, whether the fare increases or decreases, the money goes to the company. Our target remains the same.”