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Taxis light up to end confusion

TAXIS are to be fitted with new roof lights in a bid to clear up confusion over any refusal to take passengers.

The lights will indicate whether the taxi is "available," "reserved" or "out of service."

Shanghai Urban Transport Management Bureau said the signs would be installed and working before next year's World Expo.

"But we are still finalizing details," said Huang Xiaoyong, the bureau's publicity official.

Zhou Wei, manager of Dazhong Taxi Co, said the new roof light could avoid a lot of misunderstanding and complaints.

"Many citizens have complained to the taxi companies about their experience of being refused when hailing an empty taxi," Zhou said. "But the truth is hard to know and investigate."

For instance, often the empty taxi has already been ordered by phone. Or the driver may feel tired and want to take a break. With the new roof light, "everything will be made clear," Zhou said yesterday.

Weng Lingyan, who said she was often turned down when hailing empty taxis, said the new light would make it easier to recognize available cabs.

But she also said it might confuse passengers who are not familiar with the practice if there were only three different lights on a cab.

The large number of taxis in the city might be another challenge for the project. Shanghai has nearly 50,000 cabs on the roads.

As a result, taxi fleet managers say it might take many months to have all the lights changed and all the necessary wiring installed.

Meanwhile, the bureau has a number of other plans to improve the taxi service before Expo.

By the end of this year, 5,000 regular cabs and 300 cabs designed for handicapped people will be put into use, and cabs in suburban districts are to be repainted in a brighter color.

More English services will become available too.

Dazhong, Qiangsheng and Haibo taxi companies already have an English reservation service, and another two major taxi companies will have such a service this year.


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