Sunday, April 30, 2006


Hangzhou Taxi

So, tried to go to the hospital to get my leg checked out. Rather than risk driving, we tried to get a taxi but, being a bank holiday week the road-side was covered with people waiting for taxis and all the taxis were already in use.

The problem always seems to me that the taxis are too cheap - at 10RMB (69 pence GBP) for the first kilometre and 2RMB per kilometre thereafter - and the people in Hangzhou are too affluent, so there simply aren't enough taxis to go around, particularly at weekends. It's one of the reasons why having a car is so great!

While we were standing there, some kind chap on a bicycle handed me a copy of More magazine - the local listings rag.

Taxis are a subject of many a conversation, largely because everyone here has stories of being in taxis whilst they're being written off, drivers not knowing where they're going, drivers falling asleep whilst moving, being too longsighted to read addresses or undoing people's seatbelts when they've put them on because they're affronted that you think they might crash.

Interestingly, the magazine contains a taxi survey - an survey of 10 consecutive journeys worked out averages as follows:

Distance: 9km
Hailing Time: 2min (clearly not a Sunday afternoon!)
Lane Changes without Indicating: 11.7
Horn Honks: 5.4
Journey Time: 20 mins
Stopped Time: 2.5 mins
Fare: 26RMB

That's probably a fair average. Certainly some are worse than others and the peak was 23 horn honks and 22 lane changes.

I was just reading on New York Hack that New York taxis are safer than regular car drivers which would certainly seem to be the other way round here. It's not that the taxi drivers here are poorer drivers but the aggression with which they drive would mean that any accident would be that much more severe. Virtually every accident you see involves at least one taxi. I guess the fact that so many are also poorly maintained with bald tyres, broken wheel bearings and so on doesn't help matters.

It's odd. Whilst I'm typing this, that I'm beginning to miss the cut-and-thrust of travelling by Hangzhou taxi.

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