Operators at RTA’s taxi dispatch room using the old system. The new system will send a taxi closest to the customer’s location, cutting back on waiting time. Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/ Gulf News

Dubai: Transport officials are aiming to reduce the average waiting time for cabs from 20 minutes to less than 15 minutes, with the help of a new dispatch system, launched on Monday.

According to Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) statistics, after booking a taxi over the phone, the average waiting time for commuters before the vehicle arrives is 20 minutes in 96 per cent of cab bookings.

“The new system will reduce the waiting time for commuters as well as reduce wasted kilometres through the efficient management of the fleet,” Ahmad Mohammad Al Hammadi, Acting CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency (PTA), said.

“It will thus result in increased customer satisfaction and lower the cost of running the fleet,” he said.

Called Dispatcher 8, the new booking and dispatch system has already been installed in 3,100 cabs, belonging to Dubai Taxi Corporation. By the end of the year, officials hope to complete installing it in all cabs in Dubai.

“The new system divides Dubai city into 180 areas. When a call is received the system automatically tracks down the taxi closest to the location of the caller and that taxi is dispatched to the caller,” Adel Shakeri, Director of Transport Systems at the Public Transport Agency said. The previous system divided the city into 72 areas and hence was less efficient.

It will also guide the driver via a map to the clients’ destination.

“The addition to Dh20 as surcharge upon entering Sharjah to the taxi fare will happen automatically,” said Shakeri. This will eliminate the many complaints that arise from disputes between the driver and the passenger, as the driver had to manually enter the surcharge in the older system.

Another important feature is that if the driver speeds above 120km/h, the system will give a verbal notice to the driver to slow down, he said, adding that this will help reduce speeding violations.

Passengers will be greeted with a welcome message too.

Meanwhile, regular commuters said they often wait much longer for taxis.

“I rely on taxis regularly. It takes much longer time than 20 minutes, especially on weekends and holidays,” said Pauline Rich.

Since not every taxi has the new system, I don’t there will be any immediate changes, but it is a move in the right direction, she said.

“The taxi service in a city is one of the main aspects that reflect the image of the city ... whether the city provides good services to its tourists and residents,” Al Hammadi said, stressing the need to constantly improve.

The acting CEO of Dubai Taxi Corporation Mansour R. Al Falasi, said that of the entire fleet of Dubai Taxi’s cabs, only 400 vehicles which form the Airport Taxi fleet are yet to be installed with the new system. “It will be installed shortly,” he said.

The system allows better control of job allocation, he said.