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New service helps passengers hail nearby taxis by phone

By Muath Freij - Aug 17,2014 - Last updated at Aug 17,2014

AMMAN — Jordanians and tourists need not worry about finding a taxi from now on thanks to a new initiative launched by a Jordanian engineer. 

Dubbed “Tawseel Taxi”(Taxi transportation), the project enables customers to call a number that connects them to a nearby taxi. 

It is not necessary for passengers to have a smart phone or to download a specific application to benefit from the service, so that all segments of society can benefit from it, according to Saad Abu Odeh, who initiated Tawseel Taxi.

“The passenger can call 090009000 to use the new system,” he told reporters at the launch of the project, which serves speakers of both English and Arabic. After the system saves the location of the passenger, it automatically starts searching for a nearby taxi and calls it. 

Tawseel Taxi also ensures that the passenger’s phone number does not appear on the screen of the taxi driver’s mobile phone to protect his/her privacy.

After the user ends the phone call, he/she will receive a text message showing the plate number of the taxi. 

The system also enables the passenger to call another taxi if the first one is late, and it offers passengers the chance to assess the taxi driver or complain about his service if he does not treat them well. 

The service is offered for free until the end of October, after which users will have to pay 100 fils, while taxi drivers are not charged to be part of the new system. 

“Around 4,200 taxi drivers are taking part in the new service and we expect more to participate in the future,” Abu Odeh said. 

Around 10,600 taxis operate in the capital.

Amman Mayor Aqel Biltaji voiced hope that this service will contribute to alleviating traffic jams on the capital’s streets.

“This kind of service might convince people to avoid using their cars and start using taxis since they can now find one quickly,” Biltaji said. 

The mayor stressed that the traffic system needs further development amidst the lack of proper public transport means. 

“Right now taxis are the best and fastest solution for most people,” he added. 

In response to a question by The Jordan Times about the results of the traffic studies conducted by the municipality and the upcoming projects that will be implemented to alleviate traffic congestion, Biltaji said GAM has carried out several projects that contributed to reducing the percentage of road jams in Amman such as the traffic lights in the 7th Circle area. 

He also noted that GAM has floated a tender to implement the new Sinaa intersection in the Bayader neighbourhood to address the problem of traffic jams in the area. 

“The traffic in several areas, including Marj Al Hamam and Sweileh, is being studied,” Biltaji said, adding that studies have shown that Shafa Badran, Tabarbour, Tlaa Al Ali, Khalda and Wihdat areas witness road congestion.

“One of the main reasons behind traffic jams in the capital is that young people — once they are old enough to drive — immediately buy a car through the bank,” he added.

Meanwhile, Biltaji said a French delegation is scheduled to arrive in Jordan on Monday to continue negotiations regarding the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. 

“Some people believe that we turned to a new financer or we began new negotiations. We only took $10 million [around JD7 million] and we spent just JD1.4 million on the construction that took place on Queen Rania Street,” he added.

The BRT project entails operating premium, high-capacity buses that can carry more than 120 passengers and will run on a three-minute frequency during peak hours on segregated lanes along Amman’s busiest corridors.

Public transportation experts have called the BRT “the best option for a city like Amman” to resolve its growing “public transportation dilemma”. 

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