We’ve been riding 首约 ShouYue (short for 首气约车 Shouqi Yueche) ever since we arrived in Beijing last year. I was very reluctant at first to use their service considering their high price, but my husband explained that not only was there an ongoing promotion but also it was the only cab service at the time with air purifiers. At that moment we looked out at the gray haze outside our window, and all my objections disappeared like Beijing fresh air. So yes, we’ve been using it ever since then.
My husband and I call it 首汽 Shouqi, but according to its website its nickname is actually 首约 ShouYue. This cab company is a government-run service that’s supposed to be the answer to the city’s demands for a better standard of car service. Their additional services include free wifi, cellphone charging, and air purifiers in all their vehicles. Interestingly, their drivers are former Beijing cab drivers who are supposed to have been “trained” and reformed.
This training is evident by the memorized lines that exit their lips once they’ve started the car. Welcome to Shouqi Yueche. Please put on your seatbelts. Please tell me if the temperature is to your liking, etcetera. One time I actually answered, and the driver was confused and didn’t know what I was talking about. Of course, it could have just been my bad Chinese.
These drivers are supposed to be above par, which means they are expected to provide a better service than their average cabbie counterparts. They’re expected to open the door for you, help you put your things in the trunk, help you with whatever you need, basically.
ShouYue cars are mostly black, but the bigger ones for disabled people are silver. Each bear their company’s logo on the door of their back passenger’s seat, and their nameplates start with 京B.
In order to start using Shouqi Yueche, you’ll need to download their app.
Using their app is fairly easy…if you read Chinese. To install, download the app via your app store of choice by typing in the words 首汽约车 (Shouqi Yueche). After installing it, you will be asked to provide your phone number and also your city.
To add credit to your phone, click on the tiny hollow human on the upper left. A list of options will appear. Select the second option （我的账户）. Here you can prepay in six denominations: RMB 100, RMB 300, RMB 500, RMB 1000, RMB 2000 and RMB 5000. On the little box below these denominations, you also have the option of typing in your own amount. Your different online payment options are Alipay, Wechat, Jingdong and using online banking payment.
To give you an idea: every morning around 7:45-8:10am, my children and I leave for my daughter’s school which is 4.16 km away from the gate of our compound. The trip will take us roughly 13-20 minutes, depending on the traffic. A trip to the school using Shouyue costs around RMB 39-49. Your average Beijing cab driver, however, would only charge me RMB 15.
The basic price is more or less what I would pay if I had hailed a normal Beijing cab. “Super mileage” is (Number of kilometers traveled) x (Fixed price: 2.8/km). Overtime charges are divided into two: flat peak and peak hour. For non-peak hours (aka “flat peak”) the calculation is (No. of minutes) x (RMB .5 per minute), while for peak hours it is (No. of minutes) x (RMB .5 + RMB .5/minute).
ShouYue has Air Purifiers
In my moments of frustration with ShouYue drivers, I’ve actually turned to the supposedly all-knowing Baidu and searched for alternatives. Unfortunately though, I’ve yet to find an another cab service with an air purifier in every single vehicle (99% of the vehicles we’ve ridden, anyway). Their newer cars (Camby Hybrid) already have air purifiers installed, while older cars have either the black ones like the one in the picture below hanging behind the driver’s seat or smaller black ones settled nicely on the car’s dashboard above the controls.
But here’s the thing: not every ShouYue driver believes that pollution is a worrisome foe, which is why some of them don’t even bother turning theirs on sometimes. This is why the first thing I recommend immediately looking for that air purifier and making sure it’s turned on soon as you’re settled.
This premium car service also allows its customers to rate their respective riders. In the past, drivers were motivated to treat their customers better because they would get a 5 RMB reward for every 5 star rating they had. That motivation has since gone, and not all drivers have been giving the star quality treatment we once had.
I generally have a good experience riding these prestigious black cars. But on those days when I’m treated badly by a Shouqi Yueche driver, all I have to do is look out the window and see the gray sky and remind myself: as long as there’s clean air in this car, the kids and I are just fine. Then I mentally add “Rate this Driver after getting off” to my list of things to do for the day.
Photos: Jackie Park