Oman’s Ministry of Transport and Communications have said that all Taxis (including the original Orange and White unmetered ones) will soon have fares set by the appropriate government authority . The Ministry intends to study supply & demand and operational costs, throughout the Sultanate.
It is reported that vehicles should have a tracking system, presumably
a GPS based one, along with a navigation system, perhaps similar to Garmin, and communication which might mean a mobile phone or in remote desert areas a powerful radio. As with all vehicles in Oman a Fire Extinguisher will need to be installed within the vehicle.
Fines will be levied for a ‘shabby’ interior as well as the usual fine for a dirty exterior.
With such oversight, Oman appears to be intending to regulate Taxis in a similar way to a city, such as London.
I cover Taxis in my Bradt Guide to Oman – pages 59, 79, 81 and 82 & more – including, my own preference since 1986 for most Taxi type journeys, the mini-buses/baisa buses.
No mention, in the press coverage, is made regarding driving safety tests, that would include health checks in areas such as eyesight, or indeed knowledge of the area that the Taxi serves. Currently Taxis from one local may work in a distant location, such as living in northern Oman and running a Taxi in Salalah.
Given that most Taxi journeys in Oman are made by passengers ‘sharing’ a vehicle for a fraction of a journey, the implementation of this legislation will be challenging. Mini-buses are included by implication as they are painted and registered as Taxis.
It has been announced that “Starting June 2019, all taxis in Muscat will have meters, that will start at a base fare of 300bz and will increase at a rate of 130 bz per kilometre”.
The practical application of fares in these will be decidedly more difficult as ‘mini-bus’ type taxis accommodate up to 13 passengers, for often very short distances within the overall journey, and often a passenger car type taxi will also operate on a ‘sharing’ basis; how the procedure for this will work will be fascinating.
When this legislation is implemented Oman will have several varieties of Taxi to be hired, notable are those licensed to take passengers from Muscat & Salalah Airports (turquoise colour details) ; Mwasalat company Taxis (red colour details) and the original Orange and White vehicles.
Alongside these is ‘Marhaba’ Taxi (blue bonnet / hood ) which can be called by app (shown above waiting at a hotel). Their set fares were initially Rial Omani 3.500 (US$9.10) per km and were dropped in November to Rial Omani 1.250 (US$3,250) due to complaints and lack of use. The app may not be as slick as Uber but, so far, its the only option as a locally developed private Taxi app was banned.
The continually developing Mwasalat Bus service might also be considered as a transport option, although the wait in the heat can be frustrating the actual buses are excellent.