Some of the country’s residents have suggested that smartcards – like the ones used for Mowasalat’s public transport buses – be introduced to make payments in taxis. They feel both customers and taxi operators will gain from this as it rules out the possibility of fraud by drivers.
The residents have also reiterated the demand for regular intervention by the transport authorities to rein in errant cabbies in view of growing complaints of meter irregularities and overcharging.
“Smartcards seem to be a good option for commuters as well as operators. For people without smartcards, like those arriving at the airport, there can a facility to hire taxis directly from the operators’ booths,” said a Doha resident, who claimed to have had issues with errant cabbies on several occasions.
Another Doha commuter, who regularly uses taxis, said: “If smartcards are introduced, taxi drivers will not be able to fleece passengers.”
Passengers have also recommended that the Karwa authorities programme the new vending machines, which they plan to set up across the country, in such a manner that people can buy or recharge smartcards for taxi travel there. The company installed the first ticket vending machine for bus travel at Doha’s Central Bus Station recently.
While customers often air their grievances over the practices of errant cabbies through the social media and letters to newspapers, not many actually lodge complaints with the taxi operators, it is learnt.
As a result, taxi drivers accused of fleecing customers go scot-free and continue to make life difficult for passengers, say residents.
However, customers who do lodge complaints - in person or over the phone – claim that they see no signs of follow-up action other than the taxi companies confirming (mostly through SMS) that they have received their complaints.
“Sometimes, when we ask for details of the follow-up action, employees of taxi companies express their helplessness and say they are handling too many similar issues at the same time,” said an aggrieved passenger. She had lodged a complaint against a cabbie for allegedly overcharging her for a journey from the Landmark area to Decoration Roundabout.
Another commuter said she, too, had complained about a cabbie a few months ago, but did not hear anything about the matter since then.
Asked about the matter, an official at a taxi franchisee said his company looked into complaints on a day-to-day basis and action was taken at regular intervals if the issues raised by the complainants were found genuine. However, he did not elaborate on the action initiated against drivers accused of fleecing customers.
Meanwhile, some customers feel that if the taxi companies employ drivers only on the basis of salary – and not commission, as is often seen these days - not many drivers will resort to unfair practices like overcharging.
“It seems many (drivers) are in a hurry to achieve the minimum target fixed by the company at the shortest possible time in a duty period of eight hours,” a passenger said.
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