Dubai taxis to have free wireless internet access [Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)]
(Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dubai: Taxi passengers in Dubai will soon be able to access free wireless internet, pay fares by credit card or smart phone, and use a touchscreen information panel inside cabs, officials said.
Taxis will also carry a smart rooftop sign that will signal if the cab is booked or available.
The services were unveiled by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) during the start of the Gitex Technology Week on Sunday.
Ahmad Hashem Bahrozyan, CEO of RTA's Licensing Agency, said the features would be introduced by the end of the year. Initially, 3,500 cabs of the Dubai Taxi fleet would be equipped with the services, he added.
Bahrozyan said the new options would enhance the entire taxi experience from searching for a cab to paying the fare upon leaving the taxi.
Customers will be able to pay by credit card or NFC technology on their smart phones. "Passengers right now can only pay with cash. There are many tourists who don't carry local currency or residents who don't have the change," he added.
Meanwhile, the rooftop signs — in English and Arabic — will make it easy to determine if a taxi is available for hire. "Sometimes customers say â€˜I waved but the taxi didn't stop.' It's because they didn't know it was booked. This new system will make it easy."
Additionally, passengers will be able to spend time in the cab by browsing the internet on their devices. They will also be able to access a panel on the back of the headrest of the front seats. The touchscreen interface will allow users to browse information such as flight schedules and even avail online check-in services, initially for Emirates airline. Also displayed will be Dubai events and points of interest.
"You can get engaged, browse the net. You don't have to be bored."
Passengers will also be able to rate their trip experience, helping the RTA to further improve services, Bahrozyan added.
He said there would be new "dispatch" taxis with "separate characteristics," adding that details would follow later.
The development follows the announcement of a new Smart Taxi mobile phone app. Adel Shakri, director of Transport Systems of RTA's Public Transport Agency, said its "shake-a-taxi" functionality will allow the customer to get a taxi just by shaking their mobile phones.
He said: "In order to use the application, the customer needs to enter their contact number and the application will look for available taxis nearest to the customer automatically. This application will automatically detect the location of the customer. Once the driver confirms the pick-up, the customer will be notified in real-time on the location of the taxi. Upon arrival of the taxi at the customer's selected pickup point, the customer will be notified about the arrival of the taxi."
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