Friday, March 2, 2012

Cab Driving in China 2012: Part 2

As you can see from the photo, cab driving in Guangzhou China is dangerous.  As to how dangerous is hard to verify. All I came across on the internet was a scholarly work on motorcycle taxi robberies and the best answer to a strange question.

The only people who have guns in China are the military so the shields are designed only to stop assaults or knife attacks and the plexiglas is not continuous.

In any case, it's hard to get statistics on the subject. The best general reference to violence against cab drivers that I've come across remains Charles Rathbone's Taxi Library and he doesn't know much about China either.

The Chinese drivers I've talked with hadn't been robbed and most work under various kinds of leasing arrangements. The quality of their lives appears to be similar to that of non-medallion holding drivers in San Francisco. In other words, they can eat out but not at starred restaurants.

Cameras in Taxis

While I was in mainland China I kept thinking that Barry Korengold, who is leading the fight for privacy rights in cabs, would enjoy driving there. Than I got to Hong Kong. And, there it was - the eye in the taxi. My Cantonese translator was sleeping so I was unable to find out whether or not the machines recorded audio.

Then again - cabs might be only place in China where the conversations of travelers are not recorded.

It appears that, instead of China becoming more democratic, the US government is becoming more like China's.

Maybe Barry is right. Maybe the inside of a taxi is the last bastion of freedom.

Transit Cards

Cabs in China do not take credit cards. In fact, many places in China don't take credit cards because some Chinese are very good at forging them. Bank or ATM cards are much more widely accepted.

Taxis in Guangzhou accept transit cards which are also used for buses and the subway. Cab drivers pay no fees for their use.

Is such a thing possible here?


  1. Ed

    There is no way to compare San Francisco to Shenzhen and Guangzhou which have millions in each city in Guandong province. So are the cabs proportionally great for the huge populations for the average joe to get a cab? Are different cab companies competing for business? If you don't speak Chinese how were you able to get around? How about female drivers in these cities are they vulnerable if it is dangerous?


  2. I actually didn't take many cabs in Guangzhou or Shenzhen. I was living near a subway and we usually used it to go where we wanted. However, in the areas where I hung out taxis seemed available although I did see that familiar look of desperation on the faces of some people as they flagged cab so maybe it is about the same as here.

    The service differs in different cities. According to a friend, there are too many cabs in Beijing but in Chengdu there were way too few. It was virtually impossible to get a taxi there unless it dropped in front of you.

    The behavior of cab drivers appears to be universal, however. In Huhehaote Mongolia. I couldn't get any drivers waiting at the train station to give me a short ride to a cafe. One guy at the end of the line finally gave me a ride. I gave him a huge tip but he didn't know what to do with it.

    I do speak enough Chinese to get around and there appears to be the about the same proportion of female drivers in China as there are here which is to say small. I think that I pointed out that it was dangerous to drive a cab in China and I think women would have the same additional dangers there as in San Francisco.

    Cabs come in several different colors so i assume that there are different companies.

    Next trip I'll do a survey.

    Whoa! I forgot that there was no way to compare San Francisco to huge cities in China and did so anyway. Sorry.

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