A matter of credibility
Updated: 2013-06-24 07:15
Has the rise in taxi fares been the stone that kills two birds at the same time as the Beijing government hoped - raising cab drivers' incomes and making it easier for people to get a taxi in rush hours?
The answer may be no, since an increasing number of complaints has been lodged against taxi companies by cabbies, who allege the companies have increased their charges on drivers in different ways, such as raising the fees taxi drivers have to pay for the cabs they drive and increasing the charge for repair and maintenance.
The Beijing municipal commission of transport promised before the fares were raised that cabbies would receive all the increase and taxi companies were not allowed to raise the charges on cabbies.
Now the commission is reported to have launched an investigation into the complaints.
It should not be difficult to find out the truth. The real question is whether the commission has the resolve to punish those taxi companies that have flied in the face of the promise the government has made.
If some taxi companies are allowed to flout the rules, many more will follow suit, and the stone the municipal government hoped would kill two birds will be nothing but an empty shot. The increased money cabbies get from the fare increase will be stolen by taxi companies and they may possibly get even less if the number of passengers declines because of the higher fares. Then cabbies will have no incentive to drive, during rush hours in particular, and customers will still have difficulty getting a taxi.
If that turns out to be the case, the entire hullabaloo from soliciting public opinion to the hearing on a rise in fares will seem suspicious, adding fuel to speculation about manipulation.
What is even worse is the association some residents may establish between the government and taxi companies. Some may consider it a conspiracy both have jointly worked out for their benefit. Which will be a lot worse than appearing stupid.
Severely punishing the voracious taxi firms is the only thing the Beijing municipal government can do to prevent the rise in taxi fares from turning into a complete failure. Otherwise it will lose its credibility and the respect of residents.
The ball is in the municipal government's court.
(China Daily 06/24/2013 page8)