Taxi shortage means passengers are fare game

Updated: 2013-01-17 08:10

By Hu Yongqi and Zhang Yuchen (China Daily)

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New technology comes to the rescue

Some entrepreneurs are tackling problems plaguing the taxi industry by trying to find new ways to save time for passengers and increase revenue for cabbies.

Applications have been developed for smartphones, directing users to locate taxis, with the ByMe Taxi program by Beijing Staroud Technologies Ltd being one of the forerunners.

Taxi shortage means passengers are fare game

People wait for a taxi in the morning rush hour in Dongzhimen in downtown Beijing. Zou Hong / China Daily

In March 2012, the company's CEO Li Cong moved house and had to take a taxi to and from the office. He found taxis rarely showed up in morning and afternoon rush hours, but when he walked on the streets, quite a few were available.

"In one extreme case last year no taxi came for me after I waited for about 20 minutes. Then I gave up and turned left for the subway, but just five meters away I found a taxi parked on the right," said Li.

After four months of hard work, Staroud began providing service through ByMe Taxi in September 2012. More than 70 out of 213 cab companies in Beijing signed an agreement with Staroud to install tablet computers in their taxis that carry a positioning system. Users can send a request to Staroud's monitoring panel, with details of their location and destination. Then the panel forwards the request to the nearest driver.

With the Internet widely used on mobile devices by urban residents, Li said the application will contribute to "intelligent transport" that will be adopted in cities to upgrade their systems.

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