Today’s Shanghai Daily has an article about the possible end of free taxing booking in Shanghai. Although it is still a discussion point, this could make my life a lot easier. Let me explain.
In 1999 the fee for booking a taxi was abolished to ‘promote business’. Well, that certainly worked. On rainy days or around holidays it is impossible to find a taxi on the street, let alone to reserve one through one of the taxi call centers. There are just not enough taxi’s in this city (the ratio taxi’s per inhabitants is half that of Beijing for example), and more and more people become affluent enough to take a taxi to work or to the supermarket (for readers from outside China: a taxi in China is dirt-cheap, a 10 minute drive will set you back just one Euro). In the morning I always reserve a taxi to get to work, but I have to reserve 3 days in advance to make sure I can get one. If I forget, or if my schedule changes, I am not able to book it anymore, because so many other people also reserve a taxi. And if you are a new customer you cannot even book a taxi during rush hour (only people who regularly book taxi’s have this ‘right’).
Because Shanghainese are extremely price sensitive, adding a reservation fee to the price will likely reduce the amount of reservation calls. People prefer to wait on the street for half an hour in the hope of finding a free taxi instead of spending a few kuai extra. Hopefully it will then be possible to call a taxi 10 minutes ahead, like outside China. I really hope this decision will be made (and implemented) soon.