The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has started imposing fines on taxi companies if the number of complaints against their fleet breach the limit set by the agency Image Credit: Javed Nawab/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: There is a decline in complaints against taxi drivers and companies after traffic officials introduced a new fine scheme in Dubai, Gulf News has learnt.

Most of the complaints involve misbehaving drivers, who were held responsible.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has also started imposing fines on taxi companies if the number of complaints against their fleet breach the limit set by the agency.

As a result, complaints against taxi services have come down significantly, a senior official told Gulf News.

A total of 3,760 complaints ranging from refusal to convey passengers, misbehavior, delays to reckless driving were recorded in January. The number dropped to 1,992 in August.

There are five licensed taxi companies in the emirate.

“The new measure has proved to be very helpful in bringing down the number of complaints as well as the number of fines issued to cab drivers,” Furat Ali Al Amri, Director of Franchise and Monitoring at the RTA, said.

“The companies were notified that if the complaints are beyond the limit set by RTA they will be fined.”

From June, the RTA began issuing fines to erring companies. As a result, the complaints dropped from 2,656 in June, to 2,532 in July and further to 1,992 in August, Al Amri said.

“The fines encourage the companies to maintain stringent customer service quality.”

In addition to the fines, increased focus on training the drivers and improving benefits provided to them have also helped the figures, he said.

“Educating drivers about etiquette, customer service, personal hygiene and other aspects has had a positive impact.”

Repeat offenders, who fail to improve even after training, are terminated from the service. However, this is done only as a last resort.

Complaints such as disrespect of RTA inspectors are taken very seriously; as two such complaints within a year could result in a driver getting sacked.

September marks the beginning of the season for events, as well as an increased influx of tourists, and several inspections will be organised to ensure the quality of cab services, Al Amri said.

In a recent survey by Dubai Police, 96 per cent of the 2,050 Dubai residents who took part in the survey said they felt safe when riding a taxi at night.

RTA opened the doors of the Taxi Drivers Training and Qualification Centre in January this year. It was made mandatory for anyone wanting to work as a taxi driver in Dubai to undergo training and get certified at the centre.

The integrated training course offered to drivers is accredited by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority and includes 240 training hours of practical and theoretical lessons. It covers 26 topics such as safe driving, customer service, meter function, traffic accidents and offences.