Taxi drivers, it's time to shape up

15:04, January 19, 2010      

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In this freezing winter, most of my friends prefer to take taxis - they call it more convenient and comfortable.

There are in excess of 40,000 taxis in Beijing, but I still constantly hear my friends complain of being refused by the drivers. In my eyes, there are many things drivers can improve before they can live up to their claim as the "face of the capital". So listen up taxi drivers, I'm talking to you now. Here's what you need to do.

First, please try hard to know where you are going.

The most common rejection my friends and I have heard is "I don't know where you want to go, I cannot take you".

It is quite understandable that you might not know everywhere in Beijing - it is a big city - but think how disappointed customers feel after getting that response in the nighttime cold.

"I just don't know, so what? I don't even know how to get to Tian'anmen Square," was the response from one driver, who has been driving a cab in Beijing for one and a half years. I recommend carrying a map or making the effort to ask someone.

Second, please take us passengers even if the trip doesn't earn much.

A coworker of mine lives in a community near the North Fifth Ring Road, and it is always hard for her to "catch" one of you guys after the night shift. "The taxi drivers tell me they don't want to drive back from the north area without a passenger," she said.

The authorities have emphasized that you should not refuse passengers because the distance is too short or the location too desolate. It is also pretty unlikely you will drive back to downtown without a passenger since there are few other taxis in those big communities.

And third, please get some more training.

During the Beijing Olympics, all of you guys were asked to learn a little English. A hotline number was also available for translation when there were communication problems with foreign passengers. I wonder why there isn't a hotline number you can call for directions. How about installing a GPS device in your cab?

In the end, you need to realize that you are facing stiff competition. Subway lines can reach almost everywhere in Beijing, and for only 2 yuan. If taxi drivers like you cannot provide a better service to customers, it won't surprise me if you lose all your passengers.

Source: China Daily
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