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Sharjah launches book-a-cab system.

Summary: SHARJAH -- Sharjah Transport, on Sunday, launched its dispatch system for over 1,000 taxis. Passengers across the city can now avail the service which is connected to GPRS and GPS by simply dialing the centre at 600545455. The charge for the service is Dh5.

SHARJAH -- Sharjah Transport, on Sunday, launched its dispatch system for over 1,000 taxis. Passengers across the city can now avail the service which is connected to GPRS and GPS by simply dialing the centre at 600545455. The charge for the service is Dh5.

The sophisticated system, based on a comparative study of dispatch systems in the UAE, UK, Australia and Singapore, instantly locates and dispatches the nearest vehicle to the caller after calculating the time needed to reach the commuter who is informed of the cab number and the expected time of arrival.

Director General of Sharjah Transport, Abdullah Al Zari, said the Dh30-million scheme is part of the corporation's effort to evolve its systems and provide a more convenient and attractive shuttle service.

Automatic booking gadgets known as Internal Vehicle Devices, or IVD, have now been fitted in 1,125 cabs spanning all Sharjah Taxi 457-vehicle fleet and 668 cabs from the Emirates and City franchisees. "It shall later be fixed in the remaining 3,735 taxis of all franchisees operating here, including Advantage and Union companies, by August 1, 2011," said Al Zari.

The new system, being operated in collaboration with the ST Electronics Singaporean company after some amendments to best suit the UAE, will first be tried for three months, and then evaluated.

"If proven successful and needed, the same dispatch service may be launched in the Eastern and Central regions by 2011 as per field reports," he said.

Noting that waiting for a taxi has become history, Zari said a reserved cabbie cannot refuse to go anywhere even to a remote or deserted area or at peak or late hours. "To encourage cabbies, they will collect 20 per cent of the service charge which is equal to Dh1 of the Dh5 service," he added

Manager of the project, Mohammed Abdullah said the service, with the help of 10 male and female employees on 16-hour two shifts, will first be available all the week round from 7am to 11pm. "The staff will later grow to 20, and the service shall then be accessible round the clock." "The nearly 30-40 minutes regular wait for a taxi will significantly drop to an average of 10 to 15 minutes, and that will save time and effort, let alone environmental and traffic benefits," he said.

Assistant Director General of Sharjah Transport Rahama Al Shamsi said the new system, which allows Sharjah Transport to track, locate and know if the taxi is empty or not, allows commuters to also book a taxi in advance. "We have not yet determined how early a taxi needs to booked, but that will be set after the three-month experiment."

Sharjah Transport technicians and drivers have finished training on the new system, and are fully geared to train cabbies of other cab companies on how to use the system.

"The areas and streets which see most cab commuters have been downloaded on the system in collaboration with the IT department and the Singaporean company carrying out the project," he said.

Ibtisam Al Ubaidali, IT manager at Sharjah Transport all the maps to be used in locating the major sites have been prepared by Sharjah Transport in line with field reports on the areas and streets with pressing demand from the public on cabbies.

"The process of locating sites is done electronically. Each point stands for a site on the electronic map which the IVD devices can identify with the help of the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Global Positioning System (GPS)."

ahmedshaaban@khaleejtimes.com

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Jan 16, 2011
Words:649
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