Dubai: Taxis in Dubai will start charging a Dh4 toll from Tuesday when passing through Salik toll gates installed across four different locations in Dubai, a senior Roads and Transport (RTA) official told Gulf News.
Tolls for taxis are being reintroduced after a gap of four years, as the RTA upgrades meters that will automatically add toll charges to fares after passing through a Salik gate.
Taxis were allowed to pass through Salik gates without charge from December 2008 due to dozens of complaints by customers regarding the manual inclusion of tolls by taxi drivers that led to confusion and suspicion of cheating.
“We have now developed a system that will automatically include tolls when taxis pass through Salik gates. Earlier we had problems when taxi drivers were adding toll charges manually and there were a lot of complaints, which won’t be the case now,” said Adel Mohammad Shakeri, Director of the Transportation System Department, at the RTA’s Public Transport Agency.
The meters of all 8,000 taxis, including the franchise cabs, have been upgraded and will begin to charge tolls while passing through any of the four toll gates on Al Maktoum Bridge, Al Safa, Al Garhoud Bridge and Al Barsha.
“Customers will have an option to choose an alternative route and cabbies will have to ask them if they are willing to take a Salik route or an alternative route,” said Shakeri.
He added that taxis passing through two consecutive toll gates of Al Safa and Al Barsha within 30 minutes in a single trip will be charged only once, while all rides on Al Maktoum Bridge will be toll-free between 10pm and 6am.
“Our idea is to reduce traffic on Shaikh Zayed Road and drive them to alternative routes, if a customer doesn’t want to pay extra for the toll then he can choose an alternative route and we would like to encourage people using alternative routes,” he said.
However, neither cabbies nor customers are convinced that reintroducing the toll on taxis will solve the traffic problem.
“I think it’s absurd to think that reintroducing Salik will ease traffic on Shaikh Zayed Road, there only 8,000 taxis in Dubai which run across Dubai when compared to over a million vehicles in Dubai, how will a handful of taxis taken away from Shaikh Zayed Road reduce traffic,” said Nikita, a Dubai resident of Dubai.
Echoing her views a taxi driver said: “Many tourists would prefer to take Shaikh Zayed Road and won’t mind paying an additional Dh4 as a toll. I think even residents would prefer paying a toll rather taking an alternative route.”