Saudi taxi fares are fixed by the government
Riyadh – Arab Today
At a time of charity and humbleness during the month of Ramadan, shrewd-minded taxi-drivers operating in Mecca are ripping-off people who are
visiting to perform the Umrah pilgrimage.
Around the middle of the month of Ramadan, all private vehicles are barred from entering the holy city in an effort to ease congestion, however this year they were stopped at the beginning of the month.
The only other means of transport to reach the Holy city is by bus, or by using one of the many taxis which patrol the area.
Pilgrims can get a bus from the Al Shumaisy car park, which is located 20km away or for those who can afford the journey there is the option of taking a cab.
The average bus fare is around SR5 (Saudi Riyals) to the Grand Mosque, however this drops passengers approximately a kilometre away, which is a problem for the elderly and for people with difficulty walking the distance back.
On a normal day a taxi-ride from Jeddah to Mecca costs around SR70 but during the month of Ramadan fares peak to SR100, and can reach SR150 if you are after a larger or a more luxurious ride.
One taxi-operating company said fares are fixed by the government and there is nothing they can do but charge up to SR150 for the journey. An official from the Transportation Ministry, he said visited various taxi companies before Ramadan and advised them of the fixed rates which they are to use.
The Saudi government is aiming to create a more stress-free visit for pilgrims who will be attending to perform Hajj, by creating a network of affordable bus routes from the car parks at Al Shumaisy on the Jeddah-Mecca Highway, Hada and Sharaya, Kudai, Al-Omraha and Al-Aziziyah. There are four bus companies who will operate the service, charging a fixed fee of SR5 one-way, and will drop passengers opposite the Haram on Ajayad Street.