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Taxi Fare Increase Gets Thumbs Down!
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After the introduction of increased taxi fares at the weekend it's being suggested many Beijingers will simply be giving the thumbs down signal when hailing a cab.


"I'll try to use taxis as little as possible," said Li Guang, 27, a local newspaper editor. "I can find alternatives, like the subway, bus or bike."


On Saturday the price per kilometer after four kilometers rose from 1.6 yuan (20 US cents) to 2 yuan (25 US cents).


For some, like Wang Ji, an outdoor activity center employee, the impact will be less noticeable.


"I will not be affected by the new fares as my company reimburses office-hour rides," he said. "But I would think twice about taking a taxi if my company stopped fully reimbursing fares."


However, others said the price hike would have no impact on their daily lives. Julia Grindell, magazine editor of the British Chamber of Commerce, is one of them. "Taxis help me much to organize my work and appointments," she said. "They are important to me so I cannot imagine my life without them."


Two days after the fare increase more than 4,000 taxis in the capital have been labeled with the "2 yuan" tags, according to a source with the Beijing Transportation Management Bureau.


Due to difficulties in updating all electronic meters and price tags attached to the rear windows it will be a month before all 63,600 of the city's taxis will be charging the new fares.


Some cab drivers were unhappy with the rise, saying higher prices meant fewer passengers.


"I have to compete with stylish Hyundais for customers," complained Zhang Guojie, 33, a 1.4 liter Citroen driver. "The fare hike means I will lose customers but when my car is replaced with a new 1.8 liter low emission model I believe more people may accept it."


The price rise, explained the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, was a direct result of continued oil price rises.


On April 26 at a hearing on the issue 56 percent of those represented voted for the adoption of the price rise amid heated opposition.


(China Daily May 22, 2006)


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