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Public hearing to discuss taxi fare increase

By Jin Haixing  (China Daily)

08:29, May 08, 2013

Beijing will hold a public hearing on May 23 to discuss a plan it released on Tuesday to raise fares to address the taxi shortage in the capital. [Photo by WANG JING / CHINA DAILY]

A public hearing will be held on May 23 in Beijing to decide how much taxi fares should be raised, part of an effort to address the taxi shortage in the capital.

According to a plan released on Tuesday, taxi drivers will charge 13 yuan ($2) for a trip less than 3 kilometers, and an additional 2.3 yuan or 2.6 yuan for every kilometer beyond that.

The plan will be discussed at the hearing.

The capital's current taxi fare system, 10 yuan within 3 km and 2 yuan for every additional km, has been in place since 2006.

The 3-yuan additional fuel surcharge will be reduced to 1 yuan per journey, according to a statement from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform.

Under the current system, when taxi drivers are waiting in traffic during rush hour, an additional 1 km is added to the total length of the journey every 5 minutes. In the new plan, an additional 2 km would be added every 5 minutes.

The fare reform plan is based on a survey of 3,074 taxi passengers and interviews with drivers, experts and companies, said Li Sufang, a spokeswoman for the commission.

Li said the proposed increase in taxi fares is to make the industry more attractive and improve the quality of service.

The pricing reform will mainly benefit taxi drivers, and each driver could earn an extra 1,400 yuan to 2,300 yuan a month, depending on the final plan, she said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The plan will also raise the fee from 3 yuan to 8 yuan for each booking by phone four hours or more before using a taxicab. An immediate booking less than 30 minutes in advance will cost 5 yuan.

Meanwhile, Beijing will establish a system to integrate the current five phone booking hotlines, the statement said.

The public hearing will be held to seek opinions from 25 people, including lawmakers, political advisers, experts, taxi companies and drivers.

Wang Limei, secretary-general of the China Road Transport Association, will attend the public hearing to present transportation experts.

She said she prefers the plan that will charge 2.6 yuan for every additional kilometer.

Wang also call to scrap the fuel surcharge.

Ten consumers, recommended by Beijing's consumer associations, will also attend the hearing. Chen Peng, one of the 10, said he will collect more suggestions from people in his community, which has more than 20,000 residents, including many migrant workers.

Taxi driver Wang Jiansheng, one of the three drivers scheduled to attend the public hearing, said he is most concerned about the fares during rush hour.

"According to my experience, shortening the waiting time in traffic jams and raising the charge for the waiting are important to address the taxi shortage," said Wang, who has worked in the sector for 14 years.

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