KUWAIT CITY, Sept 14: In this week’s Arab Times online poll, readers weighed in on the recent changes in public transportation and the mandated use of the meter to determine taxi fare.
The majority of respondents, 41 percent, shared that they had always paid without a meter reading and had never complained of an inactive meter to the authorities. “I think it was easy to negotiate a fair price with taxi drivers in the past. Passengers were aware of the rates and they were mostly standardised. But now with the increase in petrol prices, all bets are off. You can expect to pay twice the amount for your usual route.” “I have been using taxis for a long time and my drivers have not increased their prices for me since I am a loyal customer. But I cannot be certain that prices will stay the same. I am contemplating getting a drivers license right now as it will be cheaper in the long run”, another reader told the Arab Times.
Earlier news reports had stated that the Ministries of Interior and Trade were discussing a joint mechanism to regulate taxi fares and curb artificial fare increase and the use of taxi meters would be closely monitored to protect consumers from steep fare increase.
The amended taxi fares that were revealed two weeks ago stipulate that private taxis will charge initial service fee of 500 fils upon boarding and 150 fils for each subsequent kilometer and 50 fils per each minute of waiting, and taxis on demand could charge 600 fils while boarding with 200 fils charged for every subsequent kilometer and 70 fils for every minute of waiting. In both cases, of the car develops a fault, the period of waiting would not be counted and the consumer would only have to pay for the distance covered.
24 percent of respondents felt that the Ministry of Interior should have surprise checks on taxis to ensure that they comply with meter usage. “If you catch a cab outside the Avenues these days, you will see that taxi drivers insist on driving by the meter as they are within earshot of traffic policemen. I was surprised at first but very happy by this turn of events. I think this will encourage more people to use public transportation.”
Others felt that taxis were still far too expensive for their daily commute, “I think the recent introduction of vanpooling services will reduce demand for taxis. The new vans are more economical than taxis and more comfortable than buses.”
17 percent of respondents shared that the fare as per the meter is lowest in Gulf but never followed in practice. “We’ve been used to paying low fares for everything in Kuwait, from petrol to electricity and other utilities. If we compare our costs to those of our counterparts across the region, I think we would grumble less and appreciate our services better.”
4 percent of respondents were in favour of a price hike as they felt that taxi drivers deserve to have higher savings for a better life for his family and another 13 percent of voters pointed out that taxi drivers have to pay to their sponsors as per demand and this cost should also be considered by consumers. “I think we need to realise that the taxi drivers don’t have just petrol price hike to contend with but also have to make payments to their sponsors. Unless the government also regulates this, the income for drivers may not rise even though consumers are paying more.
By Cinatra Fernandes Arab Times Staff