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February 23, 2010

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Black-taxi tactics get wilier: officials

THE Shanghai Traffic Law Enforcement Team said yesterday that it caught 11 illegal cabs, or black taxis, during a crackdown starting late January.

The team said it will keep up the checks during the last part of the Spring Festival holiday, when many workers return to the city.

Wu Runyuan, a spokesman with the team, said the tricks that illegal operators used to cheat passengers and officials "have been more delicate."

The illegal cabs, having the same colors and even the same logos with city's licensed taxi companies, were found mainly parking near transport hubs like railway stations and airport terminals.

Tourists and foreigners would fall victim to the illegal cabbies, who usually use tampered meters and take long routes after offering lower minimum charges.

Among the 11 seized cabs, three were found equipped with the same machines used in regular taxis to accept payment by transportation cards, officials said.

However, the illegal drivers wouldn't get paid from the transactions through the machines, which weren't connected to the official settlement center.

So the drivers would make every excuse they could find to make the passengers pay with cash, Wu said. If that failed, the drivers would accept the card, for fear a passenger would tip off authorities.

"I'm willing not to get money from such deal," an illegal driver told the team. "It's far better than getting caught," he said.

If caught, the illegal operators can be fined up to 50,000 yuan (US$7,320) and vehicles confiscated.

In more severe cases, drivers might be charged with counterfeiting and theft, because equipment on their cabs was stolen from regular taxis and sold through black markets.

Some drivers, working as a team, even had GPS system and walkie-talkies to inform each other to escape the checks.


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