According to a report from the Bureau of Transportation of Beijing, there are 67,000 registered taxis in Beijing and over 200,000 registered taxi drivers. There is no shortage of people to drive the 67,000 cabs … so where are they all?
Anecdotal evidence of taxi-related frustrations is on the rise; it seems like everybody in the office has a story about their recent struggles to hail a cab. If you are lucky enough to spot one these days, then you’ll need lotto-winning luck to get anything other than the world’s most dismissive hand wave from its driver. And this is when it’s not bad weather (and all Beijingers know that bad weather can mean as little as a couple of raindrops or being slightly breezier than normal). Or at changeover time (which seems to be about every ten minutes these days). Or at dinner time (the taxi man has to eat too).
The average working time of a Beijing taxi driver is 14 hours per day and 427 hours per month – that’s 168 hours more than legitimate working hours, and their typical wage is less than the Beijing average. We understand that cabbies don’t have the easiest job, and that there will be mitigating circumstances at certain times, but what is going on with Beijing taxis? Where have all the cab drivers gone? Is it us that’s going mad?
We’ve checked the local media and there’s been no mention of a decrease in taxi numbers. The Global Times published a story on the difficulties of getting a legal taxi outside Beijing’s railway stations but that’s nothing new. We’d expect to wait for a cab at the airport or train station or outside the NCPA after a night at the opera, but why has the supply of taxis dried up in other parts of town? Without any official comment, and nothing else to go on, all we can offer is speculation and our own observations. We’re not saying that these are causes or knock-on effects, merely things we’re noticed.
• Increase in rickshaws (especially in Sanlitun)
• Drink-driving stops at major intersections
• Unwillingness of drivers to take fares (or use the metre)
• Huge spike in fake/illegal taxi drivers
Have you noticed this phenomenon too? What do you think is going on? What are the alternatives to waiting for a cab (when there’s no subway or you’ve no bike)?
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This article is excerpted from thebeijinger.com.