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Taxi fare proposals criticized

NEITHER taxi drivers nor passengers have welcomed proposals to change taxi tariffs, including scrapping the late-night surcharge and moving it to rush hours, instead.

Shanghai's traffic authority is discussing possible adjustments to the city's taxi charging system, though no conclusion has yet been reached.

The cancellation of the late night fee and the introduction of a rush-hour tariff are included in the study, said the Urban Communication, Transport and Port Administration Bureau.

The study is in response to a political advisor's proposal presented during the annual session of the city's legislative body early this year.

The bureau is also considering shortening the time limit for waiting charges to encourage cabbies to come into downtown areas during rush hours.

At present, every five minutes the cab sits in traffic, the meter clocks up the equivalent charge for 1 kilometer of distance traveled. The bureau is thinking of reducing this time to three or four minutes. The change would increase cab charges during rush hours, when cabs spend more time stationary in heavy traffic.

Many taxi drivers would rather pick up passengers in the suburbs during rush hour periods because they earn less by sitting in traffic. This means cabs are scarce in downtown areas during rush hours.

Local opposition

However, few cabbies or passengers agreed with the proposed changes. Guan Lu, an official with the No. 3 Fleet of Dazhong Taxi Co, said the change wouldn't attract more cabbies downtown during peak hours because the increase of the waiting charge was far from enough to cover their losses in the serious congestion.

Canceling the late-night fee also won't help boost nighttime business because many passengers currently ask for discounts at night, he said.

Meanwhile, many passengers said they would refuse to accept the increased waiting charge, but they supported canceling the late-night surcharge.

"I refuse to accept the increase just because of high demand in peak hours," said Jin Sheng, an IT professional. "Taxis are one of the public transport services. Other public transport like buses and subways don't make an extra charge during rush hours."

Minnie Zhou, an accountant, said she would rather keep the late-night surcharge than introduce a rush-hour tariff: "I sometimes have to call a taxi in rush hours so I'm not late for work. Charges shouldn't be raised for such unavoidable spikes in popularity. If public transport was good enough and there were no traffic jams, I wouldn't have to call a taxi at all," she said. "But going out at night isn't necessary for most people most of the time."


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