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Beijing Plans to Subsidize Cabbies

One week after Shanghai taxi drivers were given subsidies by the local government in the wake of oil price hikes, their counterparts in Beijing are told the good news of possible financial support.


The Beijing Transportation Management Bureau said yesterday that the municipal government and the taxi companies would jointly provide monthly subsidies to help the 66,000 Beijing taxi drivers cope with the rising fuel cost.


According to the plan, in addition to the existing monthly petrol subsidy of 220 yuan (US$27.1) for all drivers, the taxi driver whose cab charges 1.2 yuan (US$0.14) per kilometer will be given 240 yuan (US$29) per month.


The car charging1.6 yuan (US$0.2) or 2 yuan (US$0.24) per kilometer will be given 300 yuan (US$37).


"It is always good to have subsidies," said He Shichen, a 35-year-old driver with Beijing Double-luck Passenger Transport Co Ltd. "But 300 yuan (US$37) is far from enough."


"It is like they are giving me 10 yuan (US$1.23) per day - the cost of my lunch," He said. "But I also have to pay the rental for the car."


The fuel prices rose by about 6 per cent across the country on July 23, sharply increasing the petrol costs and reducing the taxi drivers' margin-thin profits.


For He, who operates a 2.0-litre Sonata, the fuel rise added 1,200 yuan (US$148) per month to his running costs.


Working a single shift, the driver often goes out to work at 6 am and goes home at 10 pm.


More hours


"I have to work more hours so that I can earn more money."


Every month, He has to turn in 5,290 yuan (US$652) to his taxi company and pay around 4,000 yuan (US$493) for the petrol cost.


"After the price rise, I only earn a net profit of 1,500 yuan (US$185) per month," He said.


To save on costs, he often turns off the air conditioning or waits outside big hotels and office buildings instead of driving empty on the roads for customers.


(China Daily August 12, 2005)


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