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China's Taxis

A major taxi stike in Hanghzhou and a minor one in Shanghai have focused attention on pay and prices. EO intern Yang Ziman takes a look at attitudes to taxi services in five big cities.


Minimum Fare

Price per additional km



Distance included



10 yuan

3  km

2    yuan


13 yuan

3  km

2.4 yuan


7   yuan

2.3 km

2.6 yuan


8   yuan

3  km

1.8 yuan


9 yuan

3  km

2.4 yuan

The reputation of taxi across the country varies from city to city – drivers in Shanghai score the highest because they rarely refuse to take passengers and any complaints are dealt with seriously. In Beijing, where drivers share their sarcastic views on politics, passengers often get frustrated because of the traffic. It both cities, it’s hard to get taxis during rush hour or heavy rain.

In Chongqing, visitors complain that drivers overcharge, especially when their passengers are in a hurry to go to the airport or the train station, and reject people.

A survey of drivers in eight cities by the China Association for Quality said Beijing drivers were sometimes unsafe, Shanghai’s were tidy and Nanjing’s smoked too much at the wheel.

Taxi prices are within the reach of most middle-class Chinese. As a job, driving taxis has serious drawbacks – sitting in a car for over ten hours a day leads to  chronic diseases such as cervical spondylosis and hypertension.

Most drivers pay a set monthly fee to the taxi companies and are themselves responsible to the maintenance of their cars.

(Yang Ziman is a student at Beijing Foreign Studies University)

Recent Taxi Stories from the Paper (Issue 529, Jul 25, 2011)

Beijing May Legalize Private Taxis

Nation, page 12

The “grey taxis” operating in the east Beijing suburb of Tongzhou ferry locals around the city far more cheaply that the city’s official yellow cabs. By hailing a “gray taxi,” Tongzhou residents can save around a third on fares.

The Beijing government is considering legalizing the “grey cars” and has been running a pilot project in another suburb for the last four months.

In Tongzhou, 60 or so “grey taxis,” which have been christened The Eight Yuan Motorcade in honor of their base fare, are registered as part of a taxi company, but do not have to hand in any fees to that company.

Yellow cabs charge at least 10 for three kilometers. The unregistered and illegal “grey” ones charge only eight yuan for a four kilometer trip and are winning a growing share of the market.

Guangzhou Accused of Favoring Taxi Companies over Passengers and Drivers

Original article: [Chinese]

Guangzhou Accused of Favoring Taxi Companies over Passengers and Drivers

Nation, page 12

After recent increases in the price of petrol, the government in the southern city of Guangzhou last week held a meeting about changes to taxi fares.

The city’s Price Control Administration published two proposals: raising the minimum fare to nine yuan and adding a 30% service fee for trips between 10 pm and 6 am or increasing the minimum fare to 10 yuan.

Both proposals benefit the companies that employ the taxi drivers rather than the drivers or their passengers, said Han Zhipeng, a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC, who was prevented from speaking at a Guangzhou government hearing on the proposals.

In 2006, Guangzhou Municipal Committee reformed the taxi industry, introducing a labor contract system, under which taxi companies buy the cars and taxi drivers each month pay 9,800 yuan to 1,060 yuan for the use of a taxi.

The contract system was designed to make it easier for the government to regulate the industry, but the companies don’t pay the drivers or provide them with social security. Instead, they care the drivers an array of fees, such as a mandatory maintenance fee of 600 yuan to 1000 yuan.

Original article: [Chinese]

Taxi links

Photos of taxi strikes in 2008

An in-depth report on the taxi industry by investigative reporter Wang Keqin


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