Crushing defeat for illegal taxi operators

400 illegal taxis will be dismantled in batches to prevent them from going back on to the black market. 

With a cacophony of screeching metal, an illegal taxi was compacted into square lump of trash in a junkyard in Baoshan District on Wednesday.

Some 400 more will be destroyed in the next two weeks, according to Shanghai Transport Commission.

Illegal taxis are taxis that have reached the end of their service lives and are supposed to have been scrapped but were sold on the black market, or ordinary cars painted to look like taxis with fake plates.

These phony taxis are a major headache for Shanghai's genuine taxi operators and drivers. Illegal taxis cheat on their taximeters, take fanciful detours and sometimes passengers are assaulted or robbed.

According to Wu Qi who works for Shanghai Eastern China Vehicle Dismantling Corporation, it only takes about 45 minutes to transform a car into a heap of scrap.

"First we remove the interiors like the seats," said Wu. "Then a crane with huge grab will crush the car before a hydraulic vice squeezes into a cube of contorted metal.

Wang Xufeng from the transport commission said some parts of the vehicles are handled separately. 

“While the car itself is recycled, the roof lights, meter and fake plates are destroyed for good so that they don’t make it back on the black market again,” he said.

Law enforcement officers have taken 2200 illegal taxis off the road since 2015, about 650 a year. In the first six months of this year, 340 were removed from the city streets. In January, police broke up 14 dens around the city making and selling fake plates, invoices, lights, and meters.

Drivers are fined 50,000 yuan and get 12 points on their license. The cars all meet the same inglorious end in the scarp yard.

Passengers who find themselves in what they believe to be an illegal taxi should dial 12345, 12319 or call the police. 

Xu Lingchao / SHINE

A crane grabs an illegal taxi and sends it on its last trip in a junkyard in Baoshan District on August 22. 

Xu Lingchao / SHINE

Illegal taxis are piled up in the junkyard awaiting their crushing fate.

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