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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

City Center plans upgrade for taxi customers in Qatar

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A taxi queue at City Center Mall.
A taxi queue at City Center Mall.

One of the most popular places to catch a taxi in West Bay / Dafna is going to be overhauled to include a climate-controlled waiting area with kiosks.

But the new area, inside City Center Mall’s parking garage, may not be ready in time for the warmer summer months this year, so shopping center officials have plans to install cooling vents once the temperature rises.

“We will make sure to take care of our customers waiting for taxis this summer,” City Center director Joerg Harengerd told Doha News.

Up until early 2014, taxis would pick up passengers from a service lane along the north side of the mall.

City Center Mall
City Center Mall

However, the government ordered the taxi stand be moved over safety concerns, due to the traffic congestion and large volume of passengers coming from the busy mall and surrounding buildings.

Harengerd said the move has been a success and has created a more efficient environment for passengers to catch cabs.

Challenges

In the parking garage, there are separate lines for Mowasalat taxis and Sydney Limousine Service. Harengerd said Mowasalat recently started to send marshalls to regulate the flow of vehicles.

On average, between 500 and 600 taxis depart the mall each day. Busier days can see 900 vehicles, according to Harengerd.

However, some challenges remain.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Unlicensed taxis still attempt to solicit customers around the mall’s perimeter, contributing to traffic jams. Harengerd said the mall is in contact with police who patrol the area as a deterrent.

Mowasalat also appears to have trouble matching supply with demand at times. While Harengerd said most passengers are able to immediately board a cab, but other times passengers must wait in line for some 30 minutes.

However, speaking to Doha News, one cab driver said that it is usually the taxis waiting for customers:

“Sometimes I come in and get a customer right away, but many times I have had to wait up to one hour to pick up a fare,” one said.

Other malls

Despite the hiccups, the scene at City Center is far more orderly than some of the country’s other large malls.

A lineup of vehicles at Villaggio Mall.
A lineup of vehicles at Villaggio Mall.

Villaggio Mall – where Doha Metro construction has closed a large portion of the shopping center’s parking lot – suffers from serious traffic congestion at peak periods.

With no designated taxi stand, taxis and private drivers constantly blocking the driving lanes around the mall, making it even more difficult for motorists to maneuver.

Speaking to Doha News, several security guards say they often see vehicles backed up out of the lot and onto surrounding roads.

“Every gate is the same with taxis waiting and blocking the driving lanes. We work all day trying to get them to keep moving, but many do not want to leave until they pick up a passenger,” said one guard.

“We let them stay for a minute or two, but then they must move on. The weekends are the worst because traffic gets very backed up, but they have no taxi stand to go to. If they did they would go there and leave this area alone.”

Ezdan Mall
Ezdan Mall

A few of the other malls around Doha such as Landmark Mall and Ezdan Mall have small designated lanes for taxis. However, they typically only feature a few spots, forcing other taxis and private drivers to circle the mall and contribute to congestion.

Hyatt Plaza, however, has an air-conditioned waiting zone with individual areas for men and women as well as couches and a TV.

What’s your strategy on getting a taxi from a mall? Thoughts?

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