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April 19, 2017

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Yet again public reveals distaste for taxi industry

IT doesn’t get any better for the taxi industry. Once again it has received the thumbs-down in Shanghai.

Complaints from residents about frustrating taxi hailing experiences, such as being ignored by drivers in empty vehicles, are damaging the taxi industry’s image.

Twice in a row, the industry was rated the least satisfactory public service industry in the city, said Shanghai’s ethics promotion office.

For this reason, the taxi industry was deprived of the title of “Civilized Industry,” which is biennially awarded to public service industries that pass public assessments.

The assessments are made up from 60 percent of public opinion collected from polls, meetings for discussion and undercover investigations, and 40 percent from the industry’s report on itself. Industries taking part are then ranked.

People vented their displeasure at the taxi industry when taking part in a poll published by Shanghai Transportation Commission, the supervisor of the industry, said on its official WeChat account in the first week of this month.

Results showed that taxi drivers’ refusing to take passengers was the most complained about “unpleasant experience,” with 1,903 people, or 21 percent, marking it as such.

Other leading complaints concerned drivers deliberately taking detours, bad attitudes and price bargaining.

In a separate poll on what they care about most when sitting in a taxi, voters marked being comfortable in the vehicle, and drivers knowing the way and displaying a good attitude.

Hong Feifei, an official from the office, said the taxi industry was given a “yellow card” after the previous assessments two years ago, but this year public ratings of the industry still lagged behind those of other industries.

“Public opinion said that the service standard of the taxi industry dropped after the World EXPO 2010 in Shanghai, and the rise of Internet taxi hailing also plays a role,” Hong said. She added the industry had been working on a plan to improve its service and would present it to the public in the near future.

A Dazhong taxi driver, with 16 years’ experience who asked not to be identified, told Shanghai Daily that he was not surprised by the deteriorating public ratings of the taxi industry.

“The increase of new hires by the taxi companies means that it takes time for a new generation of taxi drivers to understand the value of good service,” he said. “Passengers are becoming more and more demanding of good service.”

The driver said stepping up punishments on drivers who provided a bad service could be a key, but the problem was many taxi drivers drove cars bought from the company they worked for, making companies reluctant to suspend bad drivers.

Yang Guoping, head of Dazhong Transportation Co, one of the largest players in the taxi industry, admitted it was time for a change. “Internet taxi hailing keeps pushing taxis out of the market and driving down taxi drivers’ income, which hurts their pride and results in bad service to some extent,” he said. “But that’s not an excuse, and we’re addressing the problem.”

Chen Fang, head of Qiangsheng Taxi Co, said the company was raising drivers’ income, rewarding good service and improving the welfare of drivers to retain them and to encourage them to be more dedicated.


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