It is now illegal to share a taxi with a stranger in Qatar.
Yesterday the Qatari Cabinet approved a draft law that banned shared taxi rides throughout the country, and prohibited cab drivers from overcharging passengers beyond the meter count.
According to the Qatar News Agency, the law was created to protect the Qatari consumer and provide them with top quality public transportation. The law will however only apply to cabs working under the state-owned transportation company known as Mowasalat.
The regulatory law states that any taxi ride where the meter is off will be free for the passenger, which will curb meter tampering scams that were once practiced by the countries cab drivers. It also prohibits drivers from charging more for a fare than is counted on the travel meter.
While the law doesn’t stop you from sharing a ride with family and friends, it prohibits drivers from picking up new passenger while the passenger seat is already occupied, even if another passenger has a similar or same destination.
Same law also regulates what taxis should look like. It clearly defines the exterior appearance of any cab in the country, stating that all taxis should be turquoise with either blue, gray, maroon or yellow rooftops. And private cars are not allowed to have the same color combinations.
It is still not clear how effective the law will be in combating public transportation fraud and scams, but it was conceived with the citizens best interest in mind. Previously, overcharged taxi fares was a problem widely complained about in the country. Drivers would argue that they resorted to ripoffs since their salaries didn’t help them make ends meet, but conditions are allegedly bettor off after work on the issue.