By Vinod Nair — MUSCAT: March 13 – Uniquely-coloured taxis are said to be the ideal brand ambassadors for a city, and very soon Muscat too will have its flagship services. According to travel portals, a taxi is the best reflection of a city and accordingly many global surveys rate New York, London, Tokyo, Bangkok and Madrid for their efficient cabs and friendly chauffeurs. Taxi operations in the world have changed with technology, which gives cab users options for safe and cashless travel such as card payments and e-wallets. With the arrival of app-based services, chauffeurs arrive at the doorstep, with the help of navigation maps, doing away with the hassle of standing on the roads to hail a taxi.
A few frequent foreign visitors told the Observer that one of the noticeable difference from their previous visits has been the red public buses. “We have been told that taxis managed by companies are going to hit the roads soon and hope to see them during our next visit.” It may be noted that with the opening of new Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, the authorities are hoping for double digit growth in visitors. The new taxi services will primarily offer on-demand services for an average population of Muscat and on-hire metered taxi services from Muscat International Airport, shopping centres, hotels and ports.
As per the details, both the licensed operators for Muscat will offer app-based taxi booking services, besides other facilities. A senior official dealing with the project for one of the licensed companies said, “We are waiting for an appropriate time to launch services as all relevant procedures and approvals are now in place, including training for the drivers.” He added that there is a strategy in place to offer efficient services at competitive prices. “After initial reluctance, drivers are coming to terms with the advantages of this new system,” he said.