If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? After trying unsuccessfully for more than a year to shut down or otherwise reduce the use of car-booking apps Didi Dache and Uber, two of Beijing’s largest cab companies are joining the fray by introducing their own app and on-demand car service, demonstrating they are totally missing the point as to why the other apps and the services to which they are linked are popular.
Shouqi Yueche, named for the Beijing Shou Qi taxi company, gives "riders access to 500 cars that were previously officially licensed taxis but had struggled to find curb-side customers as more people book cabs online," reported The Financial Times. What the hell does that mean? You can’t book any old Shou Qi taxi, you have to use one of these 500? Again, that’s not the point.
The cars being used for the new service are black Nissan Sentras and Buick GL8s. Flagfall is RMB 16, plus RMB 2.8 per kilometer, and RMB 0.5 per minute of waiting time. The Shou Qi Group stated that the cars will have Wi-Fi, phone chargers, tissues, and in case of inclement weather, umbrellas.
Maybe these cars weren’t making money because they weren’t clean, or didn’t know where they were going, or didn’t pick up passengers when people attempted to hail them on the street. Is there a shortage of passengers in Beijing? Absolutely not. If taxis actually picked up passengers instead of just giving them the wave off as they search for someone who looks like they’re going to the airport, then maybe the apps wouldn’t be so popular.
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on September 21, 2015.