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Forget Regular Guangzhou Taxis, Now You Too Can Be a High-Roller

Posted: 07/9/2014 5:10 pm

bmw taxi guangzhouAre taxis simply too close to being “public transportation” for you? Do you require the services of a vehicle that is more attuned to your needs?

Maybe you need the services of a BMW Series 6, or a Audi A6. And now, you can rent one as a taxi in Guangzhou, reports Guangzhou Daily.

Announced yesterday by taxi app Kuaidi, a new taxi app called “Line One Cars” gives users the option of reserving luxury cars for a trip or daily commute. It has been named as a competitor to the popular app Uber, which launched in Guangzhou and Shenzhen at the beginning of the year.

These high-end taxis are already available in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.

bmw taxi guangzhou

Different prices and options are available for “Line One Cars”: There’s economy class, cozy class, merchant class, and luxury class. These get separated into various existing taxi companies and car brands: Dazhong, Tongyong, BMW and Audi.

While commuters seem pleased by the extra options available to them, Guangzhou taxi drivers are not, saying they will cut into their profits. The Guangzhou traffic department also expressed concern seeing as these BMW and Audi taxis aren’t actually taxis:

Even though luxury cars are nice, at present this just has the appearance of being a car for rent, and not an authentic taxi. It isn’t under the jurisdiction of the transport deparment. If there are any disputes arising between passengers and this company, passengers will only be able to rely upon the goodwill of the latter.


Photos: Guangzhou Daily


Foreigner Charged RMB 2,700 for a Ride in a Fake Taxi in Beijing

Posted: 06/22/2014 8:00 am

fake taxiA foreigner new to China was charged RMB 2,700 ($434 US) for a taxi ride from Beijing International Airport to Tanggu, Tianjin, reports the Beijing Evening Report.

A US citizen identified only as “Nick” revealed in an interview that he thinks he has been taken advantage of by a “black cab“, a common local term for an unlicensed taxi.

Described as a “laowai” by China Daily, Nick said this was his first time in China, and that he doesn’t speak Chinese. As there was no one to pick him up at the Beijing airport, Nick decided that he would make the trip to Tanggu by himself.

READ: Dongguan Taxi Driver Takes to Weibo To
Teach You How to Spot a Fake Taxi

After getting off the plane and into the airport terminal, Nick was approached by a man who offered to give him a ride. This man spoke English, and was able to gain Nick’s trust. As Nick was doubtful that other taxi drivers would be able to speak English, Nick enlisted the help of this man and gave him the address.

Upon entering the vehicle, Nick thought that the car was an authentic taxi except for not having a meter. Nick can’t remember the brand of the taxi, but it may have been sporting a Dazhong license.

READ: Taxi Driver Violently Attacked By Foreigner in Shanghai 

Upon arriving, however, Nick realized the car wasn’t a real taxi, but paid the fare all the same without bartering. He also received a bill marked as being from the Beijing Shouqi Joint Limited Taxi Company, but looks to be a fake.

A RMB 400 tip was included in the RMB 2,700 fare.

The distance between Beijing International Airport and Tanggu, Tianjin is less than 200 km. If taken in a regulation taxi, the trip should cost no more than RMB 1000 ($161 US).


Photo: Hebei News


Taxi Driver Violently Attacked by Foreigner in Shanghai [GRAPHIC]

Posted: 06/5/2014 5:01 pm

shanghai beaten cabbie taxi driver laowai foreigner[This story contains violent images]

Mr Zhang, a taxi driver in Shanghai, was on his way home last night when he stopped at a red light at the intersection of Jiangsu Road and Wuding West Road in Changning District at around 11pm. That is when he encountered something very strange: a cyclist on a motorbike stopped right in front of his car, blocking it.

As QQ reports, this person entered the taxi via the front passenger door and violently beat Zhang for a full minute. Zhang was unable to exit the vehicle, and could only try his best to defend himself. After the attacker escaped, Zhang was left with multiple injuries: his right brow is cracked, his nose broken, and he has suffered multiple contusions, especially to his hands.

Zhang said he has never met this laowai before, nor had he any reason to expect someone would want to assault him. Zhang described the attacker as a foreigner, but the report didn’t go into any other specifics.

Police say an investigation is underway.

shanghai beaten cabbie taxi driver laowai foreignershanghai beaten cabbie taxi driver laowai foreigner

Photos: QQ


Shenzhen taxis getting fancy new screens, multiple payment options

Posted: 02/20/2014 9:50 am

Shenzhen’s taxis are about to go upscale.

The city is installing five inch LED screens in taxis that will show your location on a map using GPS, and perhaps most importantly allow for multiple payment options. That’s right, soon you can pay for your taxi using your Shenzhen Tong travel card, Unionpay, or even Alipay account.

The device will also have other features to assist the driver, such as call centre alerts. At the moment, taxi drivers need to pick up their phones to answer phone calls from the call centre, which isn’t always safe to do. To cut down on the chance of an accident, the driver can now just press a button on the screen to call back or answer phone calls.

There are about 16,000 taxis roaming the city’s streets, and all of them are slated to receive the new device by the summer.


5 Problems with Uber in China (but why it’s still great)

Posted: 01/6/2014 1:36 pm

[Ed Note: This is the slightly modified version of a post on Larry Saliba's blog called "I Bring Order to Chaos". It is reprinted here with his permission.]

Many of us in the China tech community have followed the Uber closely from afar – watching with jealousy as our friends in the valley and NYC tweet about riding around in Uber comfort. City after city in Asia launched Uber: Taipei, Singapore, Shanghai – but not Hong Kong! A couple weeks I got wind of a soft launch party for Uber Shenzhen. I was both curious to learn about and try the service as I was to see how a start-up that’s raised over a quarter of a billion dollars from the likes of Google and Goldman-Sachs rolls. So I dropped everything, grabbed my passport and took the HK$7 minibus to the border.

Happy hour

The soft launch party was a happy hour event at the Futian Shangri-la in downtown Shenzhen. It was a half-indoor, half-outdoor bar/tent venue. Uber’s Martin Li, the man in charge of the Shenzhen market, greeted everyone at the door. The usual Shenzhen English-speaking tech crowd was well-represented…over-represented in fact since Shenzhen is a Chinese city. But this wasn’t surprising since Uber is an American company and seems to have hired management from outside of China. Or perhaps the local tech crowd was too busy hanging out with local Internet giant Tencent celebrating its $100 million investment in Uber competitor Didi Dache?

It was great to chat with the Uber Shenzhen team and understand how they’re rolling out the service. Martin encouraged me to try the service and share any problems. Since finding bugs is what my company Pay4Bugs does, I was more than happy to oblige!

I tried Uber out roughly a half dozen times around Christmas and in this post, I’ll share the problems I saw and why I think they’re no big deal.

Stick with me to the end of the post…I’ve got codes to share that will get you two free Uber rides in Guangzhou and Shenzhen!

What’s wrong

1. Drivers haven’t bought in

I asked each of my drivers what they thought of Uber. All of them were concerned about the viability of the business model in China. One driver asked me if taking a cab wouldn’t just be easier after driving 30 minutes across the city the pick me up. Another was concerned that the cost of the car he was driving, well on the way to $100k, was more than Uber is chargingriders for the service. A valid concern consider Uber rates in Guangzhou are only marginally more than taxi fares. A third was concerned that no one besides foreigners and overseas Chinese seemed to be using the service.

2. Uber Shenzhen drivers don’t know the city

Shenzhen is an immigrant city in China. Very few people grew up there. Unlike cities like Guangzhou and Beijing where cab drivers are often locals who have spent their whole lives there, Shenzhen cab drivers are always from other parts of China. Uber Shenzhen seems have run into the same problem as the cab companies finding drivers who know the city.

My first Uber Shenzhen trip took 60 minutes and over 22 km to go what’s only a 25 minute 9 km trip if you follow Google Map’s out of date directions. It’s even less if you drive using road signs and a sense of direction instead of following GPS.

Subsequent trips in Shenzhen were much smoother, but all saw the drivers using GPS to find the location of landmarks so well known that someone like me who has never lived in Shenzhen and only driven in the city 2 or 3 times has no problem finding.

This was in stark contrast to Uber Guangzhou drivers that had no problem finding even the obscure locations I could throw at them as someone who lived in Guangzhou for the better part of 7 years. One even pointed out that the name I was using for a place was actually the name from a decade or so ago. None of them needed to use GPS. Impressive!

3. Uber Guangzhou needs to ditch the VW Passats

Uber Guangzhou offers Mercedes E-classes, Audi A6Ls and something called the VW Magotan. It turns out Magotan is just the name for the locally produced VW Passat. My first Uber Guangzhou trip was in one of these vehicles. I felt pretty silly watching empty VW taxi cabs pass me by that by using Uber I was paying more money and waiting longer to take a car no better than a taxi.

It seems to me that one of the biggest selling points of Uber’s black car service in China will be the face you gain by showing up in a luxurious ride with a well-dressed, professional driver. Showing up in a Passat instead of an Audi or Benz isn’t quite the same.

4. Uber needs to accept China Unionpay

As of this post, Uber only accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover as payment for trips in China. Chinese Yuan denonminated fares are converted to U.S. Dollars before being deducted from your credit card. This is a problem in a country where most credit cards are China Unionpay. You can’t very well expect some living in a country with foreign currency controls to make a cross-border foreign currency transactions to get home at night from their local bar.

But word from Uber is that they have deals with local Chinese payment firms in the works and hope to be able to accept Unionpay and other local payment solutions shortly.

5. Uber drivers can’t call non-mainland numbers

My first experience with Uber was a pick up at the Shenzhen Bay Immigration Control Point right after clearly immigration from Hong Kong.

The roads look like spaghetti on the map and there’s no way to tell if a given road on the map will allow an Uber car to drive. Apparently the position I gave my Uber driver on the map was some place that wouldn’t let private vehicles enter. He couldn’t call the Hong Kong mobile phone number on my Uber account because you need to enable international calling to call from mainland China to Hong Kong. I didn’t know he couldn’t find me. Luckily Uber Shenzhen’s Martin Li had added me on Wechat and sent me a Wechat message to let me know the driver couldn’t find me.

It seems to me one on of the biggest customer bases of Uber, especially Uber China, will be people visiting from overseas used to using Uber in their home market. Are Uber users expected to update their accounts with local phone numbers whenever they travel?

So why do I love it?

Uber changes the social dynamic of transportation in China. It takes away the stress of getting from point to A to point B. No more running after taxis. No more driving in circles around parking garages looking for a spot. No more random people asking you for money to “watch” your car parked on the street. No more automated traffic “infraction” tickets issued by corrupt local governments. No more interrupting the flow of the evening with a noisy phone call to your driver or a car service…a few quiet taps and your Uber will be waiting. No more excuses from the fu’erdai, or rich second generation that they need to drunk drive their expensive imported luxuries cars to and from clubs because they need face. No more wallets stuffed full of tiny taxi fapiao.

I showed the app to some friends at a dinner in Guangzhou…the type of people that drive nice cars everywhere even if it’s inconvenient. They asked me…what car do you get? I pointed out the plate glass window at the A6L and Uber driver in a suit. Their eyes grew wide before they looked down at their phones and started searching the App Store for the Uber app.

Are you in Guangzhou or Shenzhen and new to Uber? Use the code LarryGZ or LarrySZ to get two free rides! Sign up here!

Have you tried Uber in China yet? Let me know what you think in the comments!


Two Nigerians accused of stealing RMB11k from Foshan taxi drivers

Posted: 06/22/2012 2:43 pm

African expats – and Nigerians in particular – seem to be dominating PRD news this week.  Only days after Nigerians staged a large scale protest against Chinese police in Guangzhou and called for a Nigerian consulate in the city, two Nigerians have been arrested for robbery in Foshan.

Sina is reporting there were six robberies last week targeting taxi drivers in Foshan’s Nanhai District, all of which were alleged to have been committed by Nigerian expatriates. The robberies totaled RMB11,000 in value, according to the Guangzhou Daily.  So far one of the suspects, a 33-year old Nigerian man, has been arrested.

It’s believed the spree of robberies began on June 12.  In the early morning that day, a taxi driver, Ah Long, drove two African passengers to Guangfo Trade Mart. After they arrived at the destination, the two passengers asked Ah Long to help them open the trunk to retrieve their luggage. When he did so, one passenger grabbed him by the neck while the other threatened him with a knife, ordering Ah Long to turn over his belongings.  They are alleged to have taken RMB4,020 worth of property from Ah Long before fleeing.

Just one week later, local police received reports of several robberies from taxi drivers who described a similar scene, with losses adding up to RMB11,000 in total.

According to captured surveillance video, the police identified the suspects as two tall black men who spoke fluent Mandarin, probably between the ages of 25 and 30.  They tended to act late at night, often getting taxis from around Huangqi Road and alighting near Dali Lingnan crossroad.

Police finally had a breakthrough on June 18, when a taxi carrying two black passengers caught the attention of policemen who were staking out the targeted area.  After following the taxi all the way to its destination, the police spotted one passenger getting out of the car and looking around.  The police the swarmed and took the man down, seizing a sizable blade the man was carrying. Unfortunately for police, the other man was able to run away.

The man who was caught, Onwuatu, was identified as one of the two suspects by Ah Long.  Police are still looking for the second suspect.


Shenzhen electric taxi may have caught fire due to leaking battery

Posted: 06/8/2012 11:11 am

A few weeks ago, we told you about three Shenzhen residents who were killed when their electric taxi was struck by a speeding Nissan GT-R. Within seconds of the impact, the taxi caught fire, incinerating the driver and his two female passengers. The accident raised questions over the safety of Shenzhen’s electric taxis, which are manufactured by locally-based BYD. According to a report in Reuters, it now appears that the fire may have been caused by a leaky battery.

Stella Li, Senior Vice President of BYD, said there is a “big chance” that liquid electrolyte, one of the three main battery components, may have leaked after the crash and caught fire. Although police are still investigating the accident, evidence of a faulty battery would be a huge blow to BYD. On the first day of trading following the accident, the Warren Buffett-backed company watched as its stock fell to a seven-month low. And while BYD has already sold close to 500 e6 electric cars throughout China, more bad news regarding the safety of its batteries could be disastrous not only to BYD, but to the future of the electric car business in general.

While Li admits a leaky battery may have caused the fire, she maintains that BYD’s batteries are inherently safe: “No car company could design an electric car or a gasoline-fueled car that could withstand a 180-kph crash, especially from being slammed from the backside” Li said. Whether or not that is true, according to a chief engineer at Toyota, the damage has already been done: “I am not sure if calm and measured attitudes toward electric cars would prevail in the market… It worries me.” Whether the Chinese market will truly take to electric vehicles remains to be seen; needless to say, however, restoring faith will not be easy.


Canton Fair has Guangzhou transportation enforcement officers on watch

Posted: 04/27/2012 8:04 am

With the 111th China Import and Export Fair underway, and a strong international presence as a result, one would hope taxis are doing their part to accommodate the influx of tourists. According to Guangzhou’s transportation enforcement bureau, however, that hasn’t exactly been the case. Over the last few days, enforcement officers have issued 82 transportation violations, including refusal of service.

Although most patrons have a story or two of a taxi refusing to pick them up, it’s rare that the driver in question is ever fined. One such driver, identified as Wu, wasn’t so lucky. After dropping off a passenger, Wu’s taxi was approached by four visitors form Thailand. The group handed Wu a direction card to Huangshi Road. Wu explained that he couldn’t take them, as it was the end of his shift, and he was heading to Haizhu. Unfortunately for Wu, an enforcement officer had witnessed the event and fined him 1000RMB for refusing service.

Incidentally, taxi drivers can only refuse service for the following reasons: the taxi is already in service, is on its way to pick-up another passenger, or is in need of maintenance.



Spotted in Shenzhen: one of the new BYD-built electric cabs

Posted: 12/15/2011 10:47 am

The E6 in Shenzhen (Courtesy: China Briefing)

Shenzhen doesn’t quite have a pollution problem as bad as it’s northern brethren, but it’s already taking action to clear the air.

The city is rolling out electric taxis manufactured by BYD, the electric car company that drew a $230 million investment from Warren Buffett.  There are already about 300 of these things on the road in Shenzhen, so you might have already seen one (or been in one). China Briefing reports this is just the beginning:

Named the E6, the vehicle offers enough space for five passengers and has a range of some 160 kilometers. Plans are currently being put into place to convert all of Shenzhen’s public vehicular transport to electric – including buses and all taxis – over the next five years.

All existing gas (petrol) fuel stations in the city and its suburbs are currently being upgraded to include rapid electric charging systems.

This large-scale roll out of electric vehicles puts Shenzhen on the cutting edge globally, and will no doubt contribute to cleaner air.


Guangzhou looking at raising taxi fares

Posted: 05/10/2011 2:37 pm

Guangzhou authorities are toying with the idea of increasing taxi fares in the city. Right now, when you get into a taxi, the meter starts at RMB 7 for the first 2.3 kilometres. After that, it is 1 kuai for every kilometre thereafter, plus an RMB 2 fuel surchage once the final fare is known. This actually makes Guangzhou taxis among the cheapest in big, modern Chinese cities: the rate starts at RMB 10 in Beijing and RMB 12 in Shanghai for the first three kilometres, and each city charges 2 kuai per kilometre fee after that. It gets worse though… Beijing moves to an RMB 11 starting fee after 11pm, while Shanghai moves to RMB 16 at night. And authorities there are thinking of raising it further.

Shenzhen’s taxi fares also start at RMB 10, but is subject to a three kuai fuel surcharge – the highest in China. Perhaps somebody at the Guangzhou Bureau of Commodity Prices (yes, they are the ones that set taxi fares) noticed this pricing chasm. They are considering setting the initial fare at RMB 10, which is a steep 30% increase on current prices. However, the 2 kuai surcharge would be abolished. Even though that would make Guangzhou’s fares competitive on a national level, people, understandably, still don’t like coughing up the extra fen:

The result of a March survey by the Guangzhou Public Opinion Research Center revealed recently that 57.9 percent of the surveyors consider this price unreasonable and 57.1 percent will reduce use of taxis if the starting price increases.

In the survey, 40 percent of the citizens “accept” the price of the taxi fee, 7.8 percent lower than that in 2008. 48.5 percent of the citizens “reluctantly accept” and another 11.5 percent say they can’t afford it.

The Guangzhou Bureau of Commodity Price said that they will hold a hearing before they increase the starting price of taxi. The adjustment will be in accordance to the prices of LPG gas. Some drivers worry that the hike will affect their business, “passengers may not accept the price psychologically even though the price is increased only 1 Yuan. The metro and bus in the city is more and more convenient.”

The bottom line: with inflation surging in China, it just isn’t as cheap to live here as it once was.

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