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June 23, 2011

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Illegal taxis keep ahead of crackdown

TOUTING for business at Metro stations, tourist spots and residential complexes, illegal car and motorcycle taxi services are thriving, despite crackdowns.

Following accidents and complaints of passengers being overcharged or robbed, the city traffic authority has begun introducing shuttle buses connecting communities to traffic hubs. But illegal taxi services still find customers.

Parked alongside a street in the busy Yuyuan Garden area, a converted motor tricycle turned around and vanished into a smaller lane when a police patrol car appeared yesterday. "He will come back soon," said a nearby store owner.

On Monday, traffic police had started a crackdown in the area and dispersed many of them.

Out-of-town and foreign tourists are their main customers, said police, adding that passengers would be charged 20 yuan (US$3) to 30 yuan for the short trips.

Some locals said more shuttle buses are needed and city government should increase the fines for illegal operations.

A number even suggested "legalizing" illegal taxis and allowing them operate for a short time until enough shuttle buses are in service.

"Hopefully, illegal operators would develop some kinds of self management," said local resident Peng Jiahua, who lives in Pudong, where few buses are linked to Metro stations at suburban areas.

Peng also worried that illegal taxis would flourish as the city government plans to increase taxi fares in the face of rising fuel prices.

Shanghai has opened 14 shuttle bus routes citywide - 11 in Puxi and three in Pudong - to solve the "last kilometer" problem. The authorities plan to open 100 such routes.


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