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October 15, 2013

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Cabbies not to ask destination while customer still outside car

Taxi drivers will not be allowed to ask a would-be passenger where they want to go before they get into the cab, according to new regulations to be introduced next year.

This is intended to help prevent cabbies from picking and choosing their fares.

The nationwide rules, jointly issued by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, and the National Standards Committee, will be introduced next April.

Other regulations see taxi drivers banned from smoking or eating food with a strong smell before or during a shift.

They are also told not to spit or throw rubbish from the car and are encouraged to speak Mandarin and English.

Shanghai has its own taxi operation regulations, most recently updated last year.

These cover most standards of the newly released national regulations regarding taxi drivers — including a ban on eating in the car and “picking business.”

Some taxi drivers “pick business” — asking the destination and choosing the longest ride to boost takings.

Some also turn down a fare if the destination is congested.

The new national rules make it specific that cabbies cannot ask about destinations before customers get into the car.

Also, taxis are required to provide at least two-thirds of trunk space for customers with luggage.

And under the national regulations, taxi companies are required to accept complaints within 24 hours — something already included in the Shanghai regulations.

However, the new national version requires complaints to be properly handled and solved within 10 days, while the Shanghai standard is between one to three months.

‘Sounds ridiculous’

The new regulations also require drivers to master 26 phrases such as “Please fasten your seat belt,” “Do you want AC on?” and “Please remember my plate number,” in both Chinese and English.

However, this is regarded as impractical by some local drivers.

“It’s impossible and sounds ridiculous,” said a taxi driver  surnamed Chen with Qiangsheng Taxi Co in his 30s.

But Chen admitted that being able to speak some English helped in his work. “It helps me to attract foreign customers, who call back for business,” he said.

The Shanghai Transport and Port Administration said it would compare the local standards with the newly released national version, and then look to improve local regulations on that basis.



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