Tech snare for 'cherry pick' taxis

Taxi drivers in the Lujiazui area who refuse to take passengers are being identified and fined.

Authorities in Lujiazui in the Pudong New Area are using plate recognition technology and roadside monitoring to crack down on taxi cherry picking, a headache in the area for years.

There is always a shortage of taxis in the city’s financial hub and popular tourist haunt, and drivers have become picky. During the evening rush, only a fifth of passengers are able to hail a taxi within half an hour, and in one case a passenger was rejected by 20 drivers in 40 minutes, according to urban management officials.

However, unlike hiking fares or taking detours, cherry picking is subtle. And in most cases, complaints are left unresolved due to a lack of evidence.

So, authorities have turned to new ways to crack down on the problem.

Once a complaint is made, officials will quickly locate the suspected taxi through plate recognition technology and will check monitoring videos to see what happened, said Jiao Lingjun, an urban management official.

Since mid-August, four taxi drivers have been caught cherry picking and each fined 200 yuan (US$29). Currently, the system is linked to the monitoring platforms at Jinmao Tower, Shanghai Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center. Authorities are working to introduce the system to the Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai, Pudong Shangri-La and Shanghai International Convention Center. Eventually, it will cover all public venues in Lujiazui, officials said.

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