Taxi earnings driven down



Dubai cabbies say their income has dropped by more than 30 per cent over the past year due to the new metro and economic crisis

Dubai taxi drivers have blamed a dip in earnings of more than 30 per cent over the past year on the introduction of the metro and the economic downturn.

Drivers told 7DAYS they were struggling to meet their targets and faced long queues at shopping malls and bus stations waiting for passengers – long gone are the days when people used to queue up for a ride, now drivers are forced to wait for customers.

Some said they were contemplating quitting their jobs while others have already submitted their resignations.

Umar Nazir, a Pakistani driver, is one of those who has tendered his resignation. He said that his monthly income dwindled from dhs5,500 to dhs3,000.

“Despite spending eight to nine hours on the road, I was not earning enough. I decided to quit my job and look for another one. The launch of Dubai Metro has made things tough for us. We have lost long distance customers to the metro,” said Nazir.

“People used to queue up for taxis last year. Now we are queuing up for passengers.

“People have also stopped giving us tips,” he said.

Like Nazir, more than a dozen taxi drivers from Dubai and Sharjah echoed similar feelings when 7DAYS spoke with them.

They estimated that their revenues had decreased by more than 30 per cent over the past year.

Afzal, another driver said that his monthly collections went down from between dhs12,000 and dhs15,000 to less than dhs10,000 in the last few months.

“Middle income earners were our main customers. They are now nowhere to be seen. Either they are using public transport to travel or have left the country after losing jobs. We have been very badly hit,” he said.

“Office workers stopped using taxis after the start of Dubai Metro. They are using the metro to go to the nearest station and then take a bus to go to work,” he said.

Sharjah taxi drivers also complained that they were finding it increasingly hard to pick up passengers.

Iftikhar Ahmed, a taxi driver from Sharjah said that his daily collect-ions had taken a big hit from dhs350 to dhs150.

“We are struggling to meet our expenses and save money at the end of the month.

“Drivers are in a dilemma as to whether to stick with the job or quit,” he said.

However some taxi drivers said that things had started to improve after Ramadan finished.

One driver, who did not want to be named, said October was a good month for him.

“Last month I was able to find more customers on the street and reach our daily target. I hope things continue like this,” he said.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) would not comment on the decrease in drivers’ income over the past year but said that Dubai Taxi Corporation had deployed 300 vehicles to help integrate Dubai Metro with other forms of transport in the emirate.

It also said that 300 drivers had undergone training to acquaint them with the metro stations and practical training has been arran-ged for 1,531 drivers as well as theoretical training for 3,935 drivers.

The RTA said there is no plan to increase the current fleet of taxis.

In an address to the Federal National Council last week, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that the economy is robust and will rebound with greater confidence.