Taxi training should be put in the fast lane

Beatrice Thomas drives home some ideas for better service
By Beatrice Thomas
Tue 17 Sep 2013 11:51 AM

I’m not the first person to complain about taxis and I won’t be the last.

But, in the interests of “sharing is caring”, here are my brief observations since my arrival two months ago from Australia about the state of taxis in Dubai.

First up, I’ve found, for the most part, that taxis are pretty easy to find. That’s a major plus.

However, I am increasingly getting frustrated by the number of times a taxi driver has asked me for directions to my destination.

Now, I’m not talking some obscure, off-the-beaten-track nook on the outer edge of town. I’m talking major landmarks such as Al Fattan Towers in JBR (the driver in question actually asked where JBR was).

Although it’s hard enough for a newcomer to town, I have to feel for the tourists who come in their millions to this city.

Dubai has pitched itself as a tourist haven. It wants to host Expo 2020. And it is targeting 20 million international tourists annually by 2020.

While many of these visitors will be heading to major landmarks such as Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab, how bad does it look if a taxi is unable to get them to somewhere else?

Training should be ramped up. I’m not talking the intensive, GPS-level knowledge asked of London cabbies, but some navigational and maps-based testing would be of help. It would get the customer to their destination faster (something, let’s face it, every cabbie tries to do, anyway) and it would improve drivers’ reputations.

If that isn’t achievable, why not have a centralised call centre as back up for drivers who need directions. Or, what about an actual GPS navigation device installed in the taxis?

For me, simply saying “I don’t know where that is” doesn’t cut it. Ask someone. Once, when I was in Tokyo -  another big tourist city - a taxi driver was completely lost. But he systematically got out of the cab three times to ask locals for directions.

The end result was that although we took a scenic route, he delivered his customer to her destination.

It’s not that hard.

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