Improving cabbies’ behavior
By: Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Taxi industry is one the biggest employers in any country around the world. There are many huge companies with thousands of cars in their fleets. Many taxi drivers have a pre-set amount they pay to the mother company on a daily bases and the extra is for them to keep. This is why many taxi drivers work long hours either to make more money or simply to meet the pre-set limit. And most important, a taxi driver’s behavior can give a country or a society a bad or good image. London Taxi has the most unique cars and they are the most respected drivers in the world because they show great pride in their services to the community and they are proud of their job as taxi drivers. Nowadays, London taxicabs with their unique shape are becoming a common scene in Riyadh. So, we are seeing a change of shape and we need to see a change of behavior.
Ironically most taxi drivers in many countries are not natives. Places like Riyadh, Dubai, New York are an example, but at the end of the day, taxi driving business is very important not for the economy but also a very important public relation mechanism for any country. Many people judge a country by its cab drivers and their behavior. Majority of taxi drivers in Saudi Arabia are non-Saudis but there are many Saudi taxi drivers as well.
We have to note that Saudi Arabia is a huge country and there are many big cities, which means that taxi driving is a very lucrative business. The importance of taxis is highlighted by the absence of public transportation system within the cities. So, taxi driving in the Kingdom can be a very important employer for the young who can’t find a job or still looking for a job or even as a part time job for college students who want to make money while going to school. Gas at the pump is very cheap and owning a car through monthly installments is no big deal.
What we lack in the Kingdom is that we don’t give special courses to taxi drivers regarding their behaviors or attitudes toward the passengers. In addition to that, passenger pick-ups at airport terminals by unregistered taxi drivers should be banned. And it is very important to introduce or widen the use of scheduled passenger pick up through cab company’s dispatchers. This will give the passenger a comfort because the dispatcher knows the taxi driver and his ID. Also, it will be a way to save fuel because cab drivers are not obligated to roam the streets looking for a passenger and this is very important to set a daily working shift for each driver rather having them overwork. Fatigue is one of the main reasons for the bad behavior of cab drivers or the high rate of accidents on the road. A special school for cab drivers is a must. The drivers must be taught how to communicate and behave with a passenger and they should be taught the importance of responsibilities toward the passenger and most importantly they should be taught the importance of safety on the road. Statistic shows a very high number of accidents are caused by cab drivers. Cab and taxi diving can be a major source of income be it a Saudi driver or an expat, so those drivers have an obligation to respect the road and the passenger.