In a bid to improve the quality and service of Qatar’s taxi system, a new company is being set up to monitor cabs across the nation.
The Taxi Management Office will be established by state transport operator Mowasalat, and will be responsible for establishing and enforcing basic quality standards that must be adhered to by all taxi operators.
The news was announced by Mowasalat’s Director of Taxi and Limousine services Ali Bahzad, who was quoted by the Peninsula during the recent International Association of Public Transport conference at the Qatar National Convention Center.
Meanwhile, it appears that Mowasalat is also planning to tighten regulations for limousine companies in a way that could put many small-scale operators out of business.
According to a senior official quoted by Gulf Times, the organization is “fine-tuning” new rules that, when implemented, would only permit qualified companies to run limousine services.
There are a wide range of limousine services offered in Qatar – from big, well-known companies with hundreds of cars, to those with just a couple of drivers. Standards of service vary widely.
These operate separately from the official turquoise taxis that fall under the Karwa brand run by Mowasalat.
The proposed reforms would require limousine operators to have a minimum number of vehicles and a corresponding number of drivers under their sponsorship.
“As of now, there is a general feeling among the public that an overwhelming majority of the limousines on Qatar’s roads are nothing but an extension of the usual taxi services. As a responsible operator, Mowasalat has understood the need of setting things in order so that there would not be any rampant misuse of limousine services,” Gulf Times quotes the unnamed source as saying.
The owners of some of the four franchises operating Karwa cars have complained about the service provided by some of these limousines and welcome the new regulations, the newspaper added.
Qatar’s taxi service regularly comes under fire as customers complain about poor service, a shortage of cars at peak times and unreliable booking systems.
Drivers who don’t use the meter, pretending it is broken, are often a cause of ire for customers.
Earlier this summer, Mowasalat atttempted to address this by announcing the introduction of tamper-proof meters that would be rolled-out across its fleet.
And earlier this month, Mowasalat said it planned to introduce by the end of the year a unified call center covering all the Karwa taxis in Qatar, to provide a “faster and better” service to clients.
By December this year, there should be around 4,000 taxis on the roads of Qatar. Mowasalat runs 1,200 of them, while the remainder are operated by four private franchises.
Mowasalat has previously said its target is to have a total of 7,000 cars plying their trade on the streets in advance of the World Cup in 2022.
Plans are also afoot to entirely privatize the Karwa fleet by 2017, with a further two companies planned to come on board to run the taxis, while Mowasalat withdraws to operate solely as regulator.
The fifth firm will be announced by May next year, increasing the number of taxis on the road to 4,500, Qatar Tribune quotes Bahzad as saying at the ITUC conference.