Oman transport: Demand for taxis decreases as people prefer buses

Oman Sunday 18/December/2016 22:32 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman transport: Demand for taxis decreases as people prefer buses

Muscat: The earnings of taxi drivers fell sharply in 2016 as passengers increasingly chose to travel by bus.
Since the Oman National Transport Company (ONTC) began the intra-city bus service last year, the number of customers taking private taxis has halved, and cabbies have reported diminishing profits with no end in sight to their distress.
“I have lost more than half my customers and there is barely any money in this business. We have been completely put out of business,” said Yasser, a taxi driver.
Most taxi drivers echoed Yasser’s discontent, and blamed Mwasalat for their woes.
“The business is down. I could earn up to OMR70 a day just one year ago but now I barely earn OMR25. Everyone takes the buses and we are helpless,” said Ahmed, a minibus taxi driver.
Most customers who travelled in taxis were those in a hurry to reach their destination, he explained. He said that just a year ago his minibus would fill in 10 minutes but now it took half an hour on average.
Also, he said, most of the time he had to start plying even before the vehicle filled up due to passenger pressure.
“It is a very bad situation for us, especially those who work full time as taxi drivers. How can we continue with this? The price of fuel is much higher than last year and there are no customers. Moreover, they want the same rates as Mwasalat. How can we give them that rate? It is impossible,” he added.
Mohammed, an older taxi driver, said that in his entire career as a cabbie spanning nearly 20 years he had never seen such low demand for taxis in Oman as he had experienced this year.
“I have driven taxis in Oman for a very long time and there were complaints that there are fewer taxis in Oman.
“Some people said that we did not cover all the routes. However, the new buses have taken over the business and only a few customers who need to travel fast ask for our services,” he said.
Many taxi drivers now travel to routes where buses do not, a strategy they say has been working but still does not give them profits
like before.
“We have shifted our routes. We travel to places where buses do not go. This helps our earnings but it is still a struggle to get passengers for the same place,” Mazin, a taxi driver.
Others have a different strategy in sight. “I have increased my fare and you cannot blame me for that. Look at the fuel prices. We too need to survive,” said another cab driver. Passengers, on the other hand, said Mwasalat had eased the trouble they faced in catching a cab everyday but some said they still travelled by taxis as they
were faster.
“The difference in money is just a few hundred baizas, but for me time is more important so I mostly take taxis,” said Ali Haider, a Bangladeshi national.