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October 29, 2010

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Cab drivers limited to 50 trips

In a measure to reduce local taxi driver's long and stressful working hours, some cab companies have set a limit on the number of trips they should make in one day.

A driver should take 50 trips a day at most, according to the measures. This is due to fears that overtired cabbies lead to traffic accidents.

Meanwhile, drivers and industry insiders said the new rule doesn't make sense.

Traffic watchdogs said taxi companies should increase vehicle safety checks and curb fatigue-related accidents.

Traffic officials said city cabs were involved in 222 traffic violations or accidents in September, increasing from 208 in August.

"The restriction is mainly targeted at young drivers, who drive a lot while not paying much attention to safety," said a manager with Shanghai Qiangsheng Taxi, the city's largest taxi company.

The meter will lock once the number of trips passes 50?and the cab's GPS system will also alert drivers to get some rest after midnight.

In the city, the practice is for two cabbies to share a rented car. One works an average of 17 hours and takes the next day off, when the car is driven by his or her partner.

Most of the city's 100,000 cabbies work in nearly 50,000 taxis, with the rest running the cars as a private business. Drivers hiring their vehicle have to pay a monthly rental fee of more than 5,000 yuan (US$748) to taxi companies, leaving them a net monthly income between 2,000 to 3,000 yuan.

Before taking the next day off, many cabbies try to work as long as possible.

"It seems that there is no direct link between tired drivers and the number of trips," said Hong Tianlin, the director of the Shanghai Taxi?Association.

Hong said an experienced cabbie can make enough money with fewer rides and at the same time take enough rest - while some others will not be able to make a living by driving more than 50 short-distance trips of 12 yuan each. On average a cabbie makes 33 trips a day, Hong added.

Local taxi drivers' working conditions have always been a concern of the city government, which relieved the pressure on them by cutting part of the money that they pay?to the companies - they also gave cab drivers health?inspections.

Many drivers still spend a whole day driving and continue late into the night to make more fares.

"I just want to make more money," said a young cabbie while catching a quick lunch yesterday in downtown Changning District.

He said he would work even harder now because of the recent rise in fuel prices, which had hit drivers hard.


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