Transport authorities urge passengers to report dishonest cabbies

Chen Huizhi
Local transport authorities have asked for passengers who run into unscrupulous taxi drivers to file reports and suggest they "don't give up their rights."
Chen Huizhi

Local transport authorities have urged passengers who run into unscrupulous taxi drivers to file reports and suggest they "don't give up their rights."

“Some tourists from out of town who are charged unreasonably high taxi fares don’t complain to the authorities, which doesn’t help deter such behavior,” Cai Jingyan, head of the department of road transportation at Shanghai Transportation Commission, said on Thursday.

Shanghai Daily reported earlier that some of the city’s taxi drivers don’t turn on their meters on New Year’s Eve and charge expensive fares.

Cai said it’s true that some taxi drivers don’t turn on their meters during peak times, especially in popular areas such as Lujiazui, Xujiahui, the Bund and Xintiandi.

“For New Year’s Eve, the commission’s law enforcers usually concentrate their activities in key areas and watch out for taxi drivers overcharging passengers and not turning on meters,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s common, but there are some unscrupulous drivers.”

The commission official said it currently has only 700 law enforcers who cover the whole city and inspect 10 transportation industries including taxis, metro and buses. One of five offenders discovered and punished is taxi drivers, he said.

Meanwhile, the city continues to face a shortage of taxi drivers. By the end of last year, the city had lost 7,000 taxi drivers from its 50,000 total, according to Cai.

Cai said the commission makes sure that taxi drivers caught for offenses such as not turning on meters and overcharging and turning down passengers are punished.

Some are suspended from driving a taxi for 15 days, while those with more serious offenses, such as charging 100 yuan (US$15) more than the due fare, will have their licenses revoked and they won’t be allowed to apply for a new permit within the next five years.

Xiang Xiaodong, vice director of the commission’s law enforcement squad, said the squad discovered 12,365 offenses from taxi drivers last year — of those, 196 drivers had their taxi driver’s permit revoked, and over 270 had their permits suspended for 15 days.

Cai also gave a tip that instead of asking a taxi driver whether he’s willing to take you to your destination before getting on his car, one should just get in and tell him where to go. If the driver declines, the passenger can just call 110.

“If a passenger calls the police, usually the taxi driver will comply,” he said.

Xiang suggested that passengers keep audio or video records of unethical behaviors of taxi drivers for investigation, but otherwise the law enforcers will try to track the drivers down anyway.

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