Tighter taxi app rules hailed

Updated: 2014-05-29 07:42

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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The government's plan to require stricter qualification checks on cabbies seeking a taxi-hailing terminal app would greatly reduce the number of unlicensed taxis in the country, experts said.

Tighter taxi app rules hailed

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"Passenger safety should always be at the forefront of the ministry's actions," said Zhang Zhuting, a professor at the Ministry of Transport's Management College.

"Stricter identity verification will help reduce the number of unlicensed cabbies and ensure safe rides."

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Transport started soliciting public opinion on requiring taxi-hailing app companies in China to verify a cabbie's identities before granting them taxi app terminals.

It also would ban taxi drivers from transferring or leasing the taxi app terminals to others, while asking cabbies to immediately cancel their accounts if the smartphone that the software is installed on is lost.

The draft aims to better protect the safety of the passengers, considering the frequent reports from passengers who complain about getting rides from unlicensed taxi drivers through these apps, the ministry said.

Feng Huihui, a 27-year-old Beijing resident, said she supports the suggestion.

"It's frightening when you take a ride with a random private-vehicle owner," she said. "The taxi app companies should be held responsible in case of an accident."

The app companies are guilty of dereliction of duty when they fail to verify a taxi driver's identity, Zhang said.

The ministry also suggests taxis line up at the airport in accordance with the dispatching system, and prohibits using the taxi apps to cut in line.

"The transport industry is meant to provide a service for the public, rather than disrupt public order," said Zhang.

He said regulating the apps is preferable to banning them, given the large number of users.

Hao Haixu, a 35-year-old taxi driver in Beijing, said the stricter qualification authentication would help crack down on the illegal taxis that are rampant in the city.

In order to expand their growth in the city, taxi-hailing apps barely verify the identity of applicants for terminal software, he said.

"The service staff of the taxi app company helped me install the terminal software after just taking a glimpse of my credentials, without carefully checking them," he said.

"Some unlicensed drivers also get their smartphones installed with the hail-a-taxi apps with forged credentials."

The stricter verification will reduce the number of unlicensed vehicles on the road and guarantee residents a safer trip, he said.

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