The first batch of 100 smart cab-hailing screens have been launched across local communities in Shanghai, allowing residents to call taxis by pressing a button or simply scanning their faces on a screen.
The service, together with the taxi-hailing app "Shencheng Travel," was initiated last month by the city's transport and housing authorities as well as SAIC Motor, primarily to help the elderly who may not be adept at using smartphones.
The devices have been installed in old neighborhoods, community activity rooms, elderly care sites and community canteens which seniors often visit. They cover 19 subdistricts and towns in 11 local districts.
Some city-level hospitals such as Renji Hospital in Huangpu District and Shanghai General Hospital in Hongkou District, along with some office buildings, have also had the devices installed.
Passengers can press a hailing button on the screen without inputting their destination, a major difference compared with traditional ride-hailing services. People with Alipay accounts can call a taxi by scanning their faces.
After pressing a button, nearby taxis receive a notification via the app and pick up passengers. The system gives priority to seniors over 60 years old who may wait for less time. Drivers will also be reminded to offer better services, such as helping with wheelchairs.
Specialized parking spots for taxis are set up next to each device where drivers can wait for passengers. This solves the problem drivers sometimes have with passengers' erroneous mobile location service.
After arriving at their destinations, passengers can use traditional payment methods such as cash or transport cards.
The first smart taxi-hailing screen was unveiled on June 16 at the community service center in Caoyang Community, where more than half of the residents are aged over 60.
Since then, nearly 10,000 passengers have called taxis through the devices, according to statistics of the app. Among the users, about 65 percent of them managed to catch a taxi by scanning their faces. Some 90 percent of taxi drivers responded within 40 seconds on average. Over 70 percent of passengers are paying by cash.
The app will launch some "experiencing days" at local neighborhoods to invite residents to try the devices and help improve the service. Some public hearing meetings will also be arranged to solicit suggestions from users.
Editor: Cai Wenjun