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London black cabs fleet on Bahrain's roads next week

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London black cabs fleet on Bahrain's roads next week

Post by Admin on Thu 29 Jan 2009 - 1:17

By GEOFFREY BEW

A NEW fleet of taxis based on the look of London's iconic black cabs will be on the streets of Bahrain in the next few days.

The first batch of 50 vehicles are set to hit the roads by Monday at the latest, officials confirmed yesterday.

The service was originally supposed to start in mid December, but was delayed by the National Day, Christmas and New Year holidays.

The taxis will be run through the government-backed private company Arabian Taxi, established in a joint venture by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Bahrain Development Bank (BDB).

"The development of the transport and taxi service sector will play a major role in improving the lifestyle in Bahrain," said EDB chief executive Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa.

"This investment has created 700 high value added jobs for Bahrainis.

"It contributes to achieving the main objectives of Bahrain's Vision 2030 to build a better life for every Bahraini.

"The services sector is key to the development of our economy," he said.

Arabian Taxi will operate custom-made, metered cabs, fitted with Global Positioning System technology and connected electronically to a control centre to ensure passengers are not overcharged.

Each taxi will operate 24-hours a day and be equipped with a 13inch LCD screen and have wheelchair access.

Passengers will be able to hail a cab on the street, order through a call centre or pick them up at stations around Bahrain.

They will also be able to use a credit card to pay for the fare.

The new company is 80 per cent owned by elderly drivers, widows and orphans of former taxi drivers while BDB retains the remaining share.

Among those to have been successfully trained to work as a driver is 25-year-old orphan Abbas Al Hayki. "I know that my new job will give me a better opportunity to increase my income and improve my life," he said.

"However, what's more important to me is to be able to help other young orphans.

"I'm an orphan and I feel very proud to be able to help others in the same situation."

Driver Ahmad Mohammed Ali, 52, hopes working for Arabian Taxi can help him achieve his wish to get married.

He still lives with his mother and younger brother and worked for Gulf Air for 30 years until he retired last year.

"What encouraged me to work for Arabian Taxi was my personal wish to serve my country and to use my spare time in a productive way," he said. "The job will also enable me meet a lot of new people, friends as well as visitors from all over the world," he said.

Arabian Taxi is still looking for more recruits and it is expected to encourage other taxi licensees to establish their own companies and further enhance the sector.

The entire fleet of 314 cars is expected to be on the roads by April, including 200 London-style cabs and 114 other models suitable for larger groups and families.

The firm also plans to run female-only taxis and have vehicles capable of carrying nine passengers.

It will operate on the fares charged by all taxi drivers, allowing them to start their meters at BD1 during the day and BD1.5 overnight - as well as charge different prices for weekends and special pick-ups.

Public Transport Drivers Society head Mohammed Al Barboori earlier criticised plans to form a private company, saying drivers were already on the brink of financial ruin because of rising living costs and competition from illegal cabbies.

http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=241511&Sn=BNEW&IssueID=31315[i]
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