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Rise in taxi fares

China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-15 08:01

A recent statement from Beijing's traffic authorities has confirmed earlier media reports that taxi fares will soon rise in the capital.

Liu Xiaoming, head of the Beijing municipal commission of transport, said on Friday that an adjustment in taxi fares is inevitable.

It is expected that taxi fares in Beijing will be raised from the current 10 yuan ($1.62) to 15 yuan for the first three kilometers, and the charge will increase from two yuan to 2.4 yuan for every additional kilometer.

The move is aimed at increasing the incentives for taxi drivers, as taxi fares in the capital have remained unchanged for seven years despite a considerable rise in fuel prices and the average per capita wage.

While the average per capita income in the Beijing has risen by more than 60 percent over the past seven years, the average income of Beijing's taxi drivers has risen just 15 percent. In this sense, the adoption of any reasonable measures to increase the group's incomes is long overdue.

It has become almost impossible to get a taxi in the capital during rush hours, as taxi drivers don't want to drive at such congested times as fares fail to cover the time spent in traffic and their fuel costs.

However, decision-makers should be particularly wary of any drastic rises in fares, as that will inevitably push some cab users to buy private vehicles and exacerbate the capital's traffic and air pollution woes.

They should also reflect on whether it is reasonable that all the costs be shifted to passengers, after all, the core of the issue is the taxi companies' heavy exploitation of the drivers.

One of the biggest burdens on taxi drivers is the high fees and commission they have to pay their companies. The government should reflect on its own role in the matter, as it is against both market rules and moral principles if it continues to side with taxi companies and takes their exorbitant profits for granted. It would be a shame if such a crucial factor is ignored and passengers alone are forced to pick up the tab.

Technical upgrading, such as the installment of a unified and responsive call services system, may also help increase drivers' incomes by making it easier for them to find passengers.

(China Daily 04/15/2013 page8)

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