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July 4, 2013

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Taxi drivers told to reroute app bookings

TAXI drivers who pick up passengers through taxi booking applications (apps), which operate through smartphones, will soon have to reroute their bookings through taxi companies and dispatch centers in a new regulation being worked by the city authorities.

The apps are being blamed for a drop in revenue for the taxi companies and apparently have led to disputes as well.

The Shanghai Transport and Port Administration will release a taxi booking service management regulation soon though the exact date was not given.

The bookings through the apps, mostly used by smart phone owners, will be routed back to the taxi company call centers, according to the regulation.

"The third-party booking operators should also provide booking data to taxi companies and dispatch centers," said officials, stressing that such cooperation will be registered with the traffic management body.

Passengers now directly connect to the cabbies who have downloaded the apps and receive business bypassing call centers. The city has about 50,000 cabs, about 67 percent of which have been in the booking-dispatching system. City call centers handle 57,600 taxi-booking services on average per day, said the administration.

However the authorities did not reveal if the new regulation will sanction any penalties on cabbies for ignoring the rule. They did however say that illegal price hikes from the app bookings were not allowed.

The traffic administration, which admitted that "the apps helped the taxi drivers who would otherwise aimlessly drive around the streets looking for business," said the new measures were necessary to boost the services.

If the taxi is late by 10 minutes, passengers will only have to pay the flag-down fare ? 14 yuan. Also, drivers can leave if passengers do not show up for 10 minutes and cannot be reached by phone.

Passengers now have to pay an extra four yuan to use the call center services of taxi companies like Dazhong and Qiangsheng.

Meanwhile, app developers are waiting before making their next move. Tracy Deng, marketing director of Dahuangfeng, a Shanghai-based app booking operator, said they were waiting for more details. Dahuangfeng had previously said they would be happy to cooperate with the taxi companies.


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