Friday, December 14, 2007

Getting Around Dubai (2)

For those who drive, the traffic is a problem. For those of us who do not drive, the lack of buses and taxis is a problem.

I was waiting for a Dubai RTA 10 bus, which is supposed to run every 10 minutes. After 20 minutes, a private bus deadheading in my direction offered me a lift for €9. Since a legal taxi would have charged €6, I was unimpressed, and offered to pay the same as a regular taxi. The driver said, €8; but we eventually agreed on the regular taxi fare.

I got in, and the driver got out of the bus. I saw a legal bus go by (but didn't see the number), and tried to get out, but the private bus was designed for transporting workers, which means that it is impossible for people inside the bus to open the door and get out—only the driver can open the door.

The driver finally returned with several more riders, presumably after having gotten them to agree to pay €0.50 each, and it was clear we'd stop at every bus stop and try to fill the bus, so I got out. 'No,' he screamed, but he hadn't taken me anywhere, and I wasn't giving him any money for holding me captive (and when the legal bus fare is €0.30).

I waited another 30 minutes, during which time I saw no empty taxis and no buses (but lots of full taxis). Finally, having given up on the bus, I saw and took a regular, legal taxi. A few bus stops later, I saw the private bus, still trying to gather enough passengers to fill the bus.

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