Thursday, December 6, 2012

RTA confirms auto-update of Salik toll on taxis

Taxis will be charged Salik toll only when passengers are onboard

Dubai: Taxis in Dubai are to include Salik tolls in the fare total if they pass through a gate from mid January 2013, the Roads and Transport Authority has confirmed.
Gulf News was the first to report the reintroduction of the toll on Tuesday, which has now been confirmed by senior RTA official Eisa Abdurrahman Al Dossari.
However, Al Dossari added that passengers will have a right to choose whether they want to use Salik or an alternative route.
“The passage of taxicabs under Salik toll gates will be optional for taxi passengers. Before starting a journey, the cabdriver will offer the passenger the option of passing under Salik gates or using alternative roads, so that there is no dispute later,” explained Al Dossari.
He said the decision was taken to further ease traffic on Shaikh Zayed Road.
“This decision will clearly contribute to easing the traffic flow by re-routing the vehicular movement on a number of roads and streets in the Emirate. Most notably, it is set to ease the pressure on Shaikh Zayed Road, and encourage commuters to use the Dubai Metro in their daily travels,” emphasised Al Dossari.
The Salik toll system which was introduced by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), in July 2007, was also applicable to taxis. However, following numerous complaints by commuters who felt cheated, the toll, which was entered manually by drivers was scrapped for taxis from December 2008.
To avoid the confusion now, the RTA has come up with a system which will automatically include the toll of Dh4 in the fare, if the taxi crosses the Salik toll gate.
However, taxis will be charged Salik toll only when passengers are on board, and the fare metres are running, a transport official has said.
“If a cab is crossing the Salik toll gate without a passenger, which is without the fare metre running, then no Salik will be charged,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
RTA is now upgrading the fare metres of all cabs in the city to a new system called D8 which allows the toll to be automatically added to the fare.
“The decision will be implemented gradually as RTA is working on upgrading taxi meter systems of a specific number of taxis on daily basis starting from the mid of next month. The addition of the Salik toll will be fully automated without any intervention on the part of the taxi driver; which will render the application of the procedures highly transparent and hassle-free,” explained Al Dossari.
Lashing out at the decision to reintroduce the toll for cab users, a resident said: “Already the taxi meters run like a horse, plus a new gift from RTA for 2013.”
Taxis are part of public transport, already we are paying minimum fare of Dh10 which is more compared to other countries, said another.
In a website comment a reader from Singapore said that there too a similar toll is collected from commuters by automatically adding it to the taxi fare. “Dubai is not the first place in the world to introduce this! All developed nations have this thing,” said the reader.
“Not fair... so what is public transport then. Isn’t it to help the people who don’t have cars,” Cynthia Fernandes commented online.
“It is the perfect way to discourage people from using public transportation. Now rich people should start using these taxis because an average person can’t afford the fares,” said another reader.
According to RTA statistics, the total number of taxi fleet in Dubai Emirate stood at 7,907 in May 2012.
New system
The new system, D8, allows RTA to monitor and control the speed of taxis. When a taxi driver exceeds the speed of 120 km/h, a recorded message is played asking to reduce the speed. In case, the driver does not comply within three minutes, the taxis’ central control room gets alerted, which then communicates with the driver. In case the driver ignores the warning, the fare metre of his cab will stop working and RTA will initiate disciplinary action against the driver.
With the new system, cab drivers will not get to choose whether or not they want to accept an assignment. The taxi nearest to the customer, who books through the dispatch centre, will be asked to go to the customer whether or not the driver wants to.
Taxis from other emirates, commuting through Dubai, have never been exempt from the toll.

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