How would you characterize the importance of TransAD's role in Abu Dhabi's transportation sector?
We work on the regulation side of the sector with the Department of Transport (DoT) whereby they monitor the entire transportation sector, and we focus on the taxis and limousine business. Our service involves the drivers, the cars, and the companies that are franchised to operate the taxi businesses; we have seven companies under The Centre in total. Our responsibility is to ensure they operate at the quality we require—from the number of cars to the facilities that we offer—and that they offer the best possible service. Our role is becoming increasingly important as the tourism industry in Abu Dhabi and the country as a whole is growing.
Abu Dhabi's National Vision 2030 includes several environmentally friendly initiatives. How is TransAD contributing to making transportation an environmentally friendly sector?
We are proud of our efforts; for example, 25% of our taxis run on compressed natural gas, which is around 2,000 out of 7,200 taxis. Airport taxis run on green diesel, which is one of the cleanest fuels, and the 270 newly launched taxis will also run on this fuel. In addition, we also have a small number of taxis that are hybrid/electric, and we are heading more in this direction. A good example of our commitment is that the hybrid cars are more expensive than a regular car. At the same time, the long-term savings are better. We also have paperless procedures, and communicate with our franchisees regarding policies and administrative orders online, provide documents for drivers, as well as permits and certifications which can be issued and accessed online.
When you look ahead to the next five years, what are your expectations for how TransAD will evolve?
What we want to do is improve other forms of transportation; we want better bus services, a metro, and a tramway. These will help reduce the number of taxis. It is not our aim to increase taxi use. However, because of the lack of other modes of transport, we need to have the size fleet we currently have, which we might increase until we succeed in building up other modes of transport. We want to encourage the usage of public transport, a taxi is not really considered public transport because they often take a single passenger, which means more traffic and leads to more pollution. With the “AbuDhabi Taxi" mobile application and the call center, we are also trying to reduce our “dead kilometers," which is when the taxis run with no passengers. Some 45% of the time taxis are driving around without customers. We encourage people and make it easier to get a taxi through the call center or the mobile application so that the closest taxi can pick up a customer with less wasted time, less wasted fuel, and less damage to the environment.
In terms of numbers, what benchmarks do you use to monitor how you are doing?
We make approximately 6 million trips per month from one destination to another. We have around 400,000 trips booked via the call center, which is not a large percentage. This is where there is room to improve to get more people to use this service, and right now, some 10% of call center bookings come through the mobile application, which for us makes more sense because we can employ less people. Through the application, the jobs go straight to the driver. With the new meters, which have full navigation systems, drivers can reach a destination taking the best possible route with turn-by-turn control. We are always conscious to ensure that nothing is missing, and our aim is to be seen as the number one service in the world.