Taxi riders in Dubai might soon get to experience Uber services available in other major cities across the world as the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) signed a deal with the e-hail taxi provider on Wednesday.
Uber has been operating in Dubai for the last three years, providing only premium limousine services, but under the new agreement, the company will be part of RTA’s integrated mobility platform and more importantly, will launch a study that will explore the viability of low-cost transport solutions.
“The agreement with Uber offers a new service for residents and visitors who wish to move around Dubai by taxis and limousines. RTA, in cooperation with Uber, is considering the deployment of new mobility options to cater to the needs of customers in Dubai and reduce vehicles on the roads,” said Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA.
The study will also consider the options of having UberPool, which offers carpooling, as well as driverless cabs.
“We had a shared vision for jointly developing a world-class economy solution that addresses the transport needs of the city and its ambitions towards becoming a global tourist and business hub. We look forward to the results of the study and to working with RTA on making Dubai a city that sets the standard for global innovation in the transport industry,” said Anthony Khoury, regional manager for Uber Middle East.
The two-pronged deal also allows Uber to offer the services of more than 14,000 existing cabs including 9,841 taxis and 4,700 limousines through its mobile app.
However, according to Khoury, the company will not offer regular taxi services for now, but continue with its premium limousine service, the Uber Select.
For Uber, the real focus is on conducting a successful study that will enable them to roll out a variety of services.
“The study will be a carried out for six months in two phases. The first phase is to understand what will be the impact of the economy solution, mainly on Dubai’s congestion, financials as well as what makes sense for the city. The second phase is to have the vehicles on the road and to see how they will interact with the population. If all goes well then it would make sense for us and the RTA to roll out the solution throughout Dubai,” said Khoury.
Though, the tariff hasn’t been decided yet but Khoury says it will be much cheaper than existing taxis.
“We haven’t still agreed on the tariff, the first phase of the study is to better understand what makes sense in terms of tariff. But I think there will be a big difference between the taxi fares and what we are going to provide,” he added.
Khoury said that the ultimate goal of this whole exercise is to offer low-cost services as an alternative to private car ownership.
“You don’t need to own a car, if you can rely on Uber to get a car within a minute anywhere for a relatively cheaper price. This will reduce congestion and we will then be able to launch UberPool, which is the product we have around the world where we have two or three people sharing a car, which means reducing congestion even more and hopefully the future vision is to have driverless cars,” he said.