RAK launches new taxi fleet
Ras Al Khaimah, February 26, 2008
The Ras Al Khaimah Transport Authority (Rakta) has launched its new fleet of taxis as part of its initiative to boost the transport system in the emirate.
The new fleet, to be run by Al Hamra Taxi, was inaugurated today (Tuesday) by Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, RAK crown prince and deputy ruler at a function here.
Rakta, the government agency responsible for regulating public transport in the emirate, also awarded franchises to two private companies for operating taxis in the emirate.
The agreements were signed by Rakta chairman Colonel Nasser Muradad and Sheikh Sultan bin Majid Al Qasimi, representing Al Arabiya Taxi, and Ahmed Abdullah Al Ghurair, board member of Cars Taxi Group.
Speaking at the function, Nasser Muradad said that the launch of the new fleet marks the first step towards the creation of a world-class public transport system in the emirate.
“The remarkable economic and social development currently underway in Ras Al Khaimah calls for creation of excellent public transport facilities which we hope will partly be met by the modern taxi fleet,” he added.
As many as 1,600 new taxis would be launched in the emirate by the three operators within one year. Rakta would withdraw all the 1,300 taxis currently operating in the emirate in a phased manner, before December 31, 2009.
Abdulla Mohammed Al Awadi, Rakta director general, said that Al Hamra Taxi, owned by Rakta, would have 600 taxis on the roads within one year.
The other two private operators, Al Arabiya Taxi and Cars Taxi, will introduce 500 taxis each to reach the target of having 1600 new taxis on the road.
He said that 25 new vehicles, mainly Toyota Camry and Chevrolet six- seater, have been pressed into service to mark the launch of Al Hamra Taxi which would have 60 taxis plying on RAK roads in one week.
“We will be adding 50 to 60 taxis every month till we reach our target numbers. The other two operators would start services in May 2008,” he said.
Abdulla Al Awadi said that the new taxi service will only have a marginal increase in the fare structure. The new taxis would have their starting fare at Dh2.50 and running charge of 75 fils per kilometre.
The existing taxis have a starting fare of Dh2 with each additional kilometre charged at 50 fils. “The increase will be less than 25 per cent and it will be acceptable for the passenger community,” he added.
The withdrawal of the old taxis would be done on the basis of the expiry of their licences as well as expiry of the four-year vehicle permit.
He said that the owners of existing taxis would be compensated by providing a monthly payment of Dh500 for their entire life and would be made available to their families upon the death of the owner.
Al Awadi said that drivers of the existing taxis would be made to undergo a test and would be recruited by the operators if they meet the criteria.
He pointed out that the rural areas of the emirate were not adequately serviced by the existing taxis. “The new fleet would have five per cent of their vehicles allocated to operate in rural areas. Also we have allocated 100 vehicles to operate at the Rak International Airport,” he said.
'About 10 per cent of the fleet will be `pink taxis’ which would have lady drivers and reserved for women,' he added.
Outlining Rakta's future plans, Al Awadi said that the emirate would launch mini bus service in the emirate by the end of this year.
“ We are also planning to start inter-emirates bus service connecting Ras Al Khaimah and other emirates and hope to sign a MoU with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai within three months and expect to commence bus services in next six months,” he added.
The new taxi fleet would have an advance control and monitoring system using GPS and GPRS technology.
The Rakta would operate a call centre t