By Shafaat Ahmed www.khaleejtimes.com
As the demand for ultra-luxury water taxis continue to rise, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has added two more stops to the existing 18.
The sleek 11-seater water taxis, launched in June last year, have been a great hit with tourists. The five boats that are now operational from 20 different locations, connecting popular touristic locations with five star hotels located at water front and marine clubs, are continuously on call.
“The response has been immensely encouraging, which has made us add two more stops and going by this demand, we can add a station every month,” said Dr Khaled Mohammed Al Zahid, Director of Marine Transport at the RTA’s Public Transport Agency.
He added that the success of the service has forced almost all remaining hotels located on the beach front to approach us to add a stop at their place. “We are in talks with a few hotels and once we sign the contracts, we will add more stations. We already cover most of the five-star hotels and marine clubs and our aim is to reach all,” he said, revealing the expansion plan.
The better than expected response, especially from tourists, has forced the RTA to expand faster than it was prepared for. Apart from more stops, the authority is also expediting its plan to add new routes.
One of the routes that has been in the pipeline for some time and would soon see the daylight is the Dubai-Ajman service. The service, which is in the final stages of execution, is expected to begin by the end of the first quarter of this year itself.
The number of water taxis would also double from the current five to 10 by the end of March and if the demand stays high, the authority is planning to introduce more.
Water transport is the oldest means of public transport in Dubai and continues to be popular. Around 1,500 people use waterbuses daily apart, from the 50,000 people who use the cheaper option of abras, which have a one-way fare of Dh1. Waterbuses charge Dh2 in each direction and can be accessed only through Nol cards.
Though the ridership figures for water taxis are not available, its popularity can be gauged by the number of trips it makes daily, which ranges from two to four dozen on an average.