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November 10, 2009

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Buses roll, but so do black cabs

CALL it a seesaw game:

Black cabs continued to operate yesterday despite the debut of new community buses in outlying areas - short-run routes meant to strike a blow at the black cab business.

However, the ongoing citywide crackdown on illegal cabs and mini vans is making the operators more alert.

"Several black cabs were just waiting outside the community gateway as I went out in the morning," said a local, surnamed Lu, who lives in a Baoshan District community along the way of one community bus line.

The bus company opened two community bus routes in Baoshan yesterday and will open other four in Pudong New Area and Minhang District this week.

The fare will only cost 1 yuan (15 US cents) but with no discounts on the transportation card. Only four buses are now running on the two routes covering several large communities in Baoshan, and illegal operators were ready to fill the gap.

"I can still find customers," said an illegal driver, who asked not to be named, operating around Gongfu Xincun Station of Metro Line 1, the terminal for one community bus route.

Long interval

The driver said the interval time between buses was too long to handle the many commuters who rush to work everyday.

The interval is about 20 minutes if traffic is smooth. But the time drags longer in peak hours when the roads get jammed, said Han Wanglin, a bus company manager.

"Although the traffic is more convenient now, I have to wait for a long time if I miss one," said a resident.

The bus company plans to add three more buses to each new route in Baoshan to shorten the interval to eight minutes, said officials.

Yesterday's heavy rain also gave the illegal operators an edge.

Four black cabs, waiting beside Fujin Road Station of Metro Line 1, took metro riders who didn't want to wait for buses in the rain.

One of the new community buses links Fujin Road Station of Metro Line 1 to the neighborhood around Longzhen Road near Bei'an Road.

However, the bus was quite empty during the rush hours yesterday evening.

"Many passengers might not know about the bus, as today is the first day of the service," explained Shen Jianqing, a driver of the bus.

"There were more passengers in daytime than in the evening."

Shen said the number of black cabs in the area had been much reduced since the recent crackdown.

Illegal cab drivers admitted the intensified crackdown affected their business.

"Now I only take students and elderly people," said one driver who spoke cautiously.


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