For those who don’t know, carpooling is the process of sharing a car among multiple people to use it for commuting.
In many countries of the world, carpooling is encouraged and appreciated because it reduces the number of cars on roads. There are designated High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes (usually the fastest lane) on highways so that carpools can cruise through the traffic quickly. Some governments offer fuel rebates to registered carpools. There are carpooling clubs and organizations so that drivers and passengers can find each other to make a carpool. All of that to reduce traffic and control pollution and fuel consumption along with other benefits.
In Dubai, the government is still trying to figure out whether it wants to encourage and support carpooling or not. Someone in government is confusing carpooling with private taxis, thinking it would hurt the revenue generated by taxis. Obviously, that’s not the case. Carpooling is done by people who know each other and plan in advance their pickup points and routes. These days the government is trying to come up with a system to regulate carpooling. At first it was thinking about having the drivers register their cars and passengers with RTA and get formal permission to share their car with others. Of course, that’s not a practical idea and would prove to discourage carpooling instead of encouraging it. Soon they realized that it was a bad idea. So they back peddled and clarified that only those need to register who pick up passengers they don’t know (aka private taxi). This raised questions as to whether they want to legalize private taxis, and how this all will be enforced.
Till date, RTA is still trying to figure out how best to solve this issue.
In my opinion, RTA should not touch this. Everyone knows carpooling is a good thing. This is not an issue at first place. However, to control illegal taxis, the best thing RTA can do is increase the number of taxis and buses, and make such a system that anyone looking for taxi can get it within few minutes. When no one would want private taxis, they will die their own death.
It’s that simple, if only RTA realized that.