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April 21, 2012

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Suburban districts may set taxi fares

LOCAL districts and county governments have been authorized to set taxi fares on their own in suburban areas, but the price should not surpass that of downtown taxis, the Shanghai Development and Reform Commission said yesterday.

The regional taxis are allowed to operate only in the nine suburban districts, such as Minhang and Qingpu, where fares are cheaper than those downtown.

Shanghai raised the taxi flag-down price by 1 yuan (16 US cents ) to 13 yuan plus a fuel surcharge of 1 yuan last year. Regional taxis have a starting fee of 11 yuan. About 5,000 of the city's 50,000 taxis in service are regional cabs.

The decision to let districts set their own fares got mixed responses from taxi drivers, who said they'd like to see the flag-down fees set lower to attract more customers while increasing the fares for long-distance trips and night trips.

They also voiced concerns that the business is hurt by rampant black cabs in the suburban area.

"I feel it's harder to have business now," said a cabbie.

As they only operate in the district area, the cabbies usually handle short-distance trips. Even when they make downtown trips required by passengers, the regional cabbies must return to their districts soon after.

Industry insiders expect changes are likely to be made on long-distance and night trips. So far the regional cabs do not charge extra at night, unlike downtown taxis.


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