Call for reforming the Kingdom’s taxi system

Call for reforming the Kingdom’s taxi system
Updated 03 June 2012

Call for reforming the Kingdom’s taxi system

Call for reforming the Kingdom’s taxi system

Limousine drivers work at least 12 hours daily to earn a living. They face a lot of difficulties and challenges while carrying different groups of passengers. Some passengers disappear upon reaching their destination without paying the fare while others may beat up the taxi driver and take away the money he earned that day.
Some passengers have accused limousine drivers of exploiting them by asking more money but they have denied this allegation.
Abdul Khaliq Muhammad, 35, a Pakistani taxi driver, said the fares they charge depend on the distance and traffic congestion. Driving during peak hours is very difficult and it takes long time to reach a destination.
Muhammad said 90 percent of all passengers reach an agreement on the fare price before starting the trip instead of depending on the meter reading. “The reason is that if they agree on meter reading they have to pay more, especially during rush hour when the vehicle will be moving very slowly. For a trip from Sari Street to Balad, we demand a fare of SR20 or SR25. But if we operate the meter, they have to pay SR50 to SR60, depending on traffic.”
Muhammad acknowledged that some drivers might take a long route to take more money from passengers. “During sandstorms and rains we will charge more, SR70 to SR80 for a single trip, anticipating possible dangers while driving under these circumstances.”
He said most Lebanese, Palestinian and Moroccan passengers have no problem with meter reading as they are financially well off. "But I have noticed that Saudis give priority to reaching an agreement on the fare instead of opting for the meter." He called for implementing a new system for taxis in the Kingdom, like the one in Dubai.
Yasser Al-Mirwaee, a 24-year-old Saudi, studies mechanical engineering at Jeddah Technical College in the morning. In the evening he works as a taxi driver. He said the taxi fare would go up depending on bad weather and traffic.
“For a ride to Saudia Terminal from Balad I will take SR50 to SR60 and SR70 to SR80 to the International Terminal,” he said.
He refuted suggestions that taxi drivers exploit the ignorance of passengers. “Saudi taxi drivers are very considerate and cooperative compared to others. Sometimes, a passenger is unable to pay the money he agreed upon and then we accept whatever they have. Sometimes, we don’t take any money from such people.”
He said taxi fare would increase during Ramadan, Eid holidays and summer vacation when demand for taxis usually increases. “During summer, people from different parts of the Kingdom come to Jeddah to meet their relatives and friends,” he pointed out. He also called for implementing a new Jeddah taxi system.
Ala Al-Ghaithi, 29, a Yemeni, pointed out that limousine-drivers in general exploit the situation of passengers. He agreed that Saudi drivers are more cooperative than foreigners. He called for reforming the Saudi taxi system. Ahmed Al-Jabari, 30, also a Saudi, expressed his sympathy toward taxi drivers who work long hours wandering on streets and earn little.
“These drivers have to pay SR150 to SR200 to their taxi companies every day,” he said. Only after that amount, they start earning their own money. Al-Jabari emphasized the need to reform the Kingdom’s taxi system as quickly as possible for the benefit of passengers as well as drivers.