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                          Beijing Taxi

Beijing currently has three million motor vehicles, of which about legitimate cab 67,000, illegal taxis (commonly known as "black car") of up to 72,000.
Current legal car models:
Major: Sonata, Jetta, the red flag, China, Elys¨Ĥe, Santana 3000

Foreign visitors to Beijing can usually afford to take a taxi everywhere they want to go.  The price ranges from 10 - 35 RMB for most destinations.  Airport can set you back up to 140 RMB.  Still, when you convert it back into local currency is still cheaper than most places in the world.  The main problem is communication.  Be prepared to have your destination written in Chinese characters to hand to the driver.  English is almost non-existent and even place names all have their own unique Chinese name

Comprehensive Price: price = starting price (RMB 10 yuan) + (mileage - starting miles (3 km)) * priced per kilometer (2 RMB yuan) Remote Area: price = starting price (RMB10 yuan) + (long-distance mileage standards (15 km) - start a few miles (3 km)) * + price per kilometer (mile - Long Distance standards (15 km)) * Remote unit price per kilometer (RMB 3 yuan)

Taxi meter and flag info

Every Beijing taxi has a meter which, in theory, cannot be tampered with.  On the top of the meters is a big lever to start and stop it.  When the meter is off, the "For Hire" symbol appears in the window.  It is a small red sign, which lights up at night to varying degrees.  Some even have an LED version which really does light up quite well.

When you get in the taxi and agree upon where you are going, the driver should drop the lever thus taking the sign out of the window so other potential customers can see it is already occupied.  In the photo below left, the lever has been put down and removed from the window, the meter should then start.

At this time, the 10.00 RMB price should appear in the meter, 11.00 RMB late at night, around 11 or 12pm.  This price will take you quite some distance in Beijing, then the price will steadily increase depending on the Taxi Type you chose (see Taxi Tip 1).  If your meter does not look like the one below soon after you start moving it is likely it is not turned on. Start complaining.

If your taxi fare is above 35 RMB you must have gone a very long way.  The most expensive taxi ride you are likely to take is the 45 minute expressway journey from the airport to the city centre which might set you back 80 - 150 RMB depending on the taxi type and includes the expressway toll (about 15 RMB).  We've heard horror stories of people paying up to 400 RMB for this journey. 

Every official taxi should have his license prominently displayed in the front of the cab facing the front passenger seat.  If your taxi has no license displayed, we suggest you find a different taxi.

If the driver says the meter is not working you should also get out and find another taxi.  Also, do not use a taxi where the driver tells you the price of your destination before you get in.  In general, the most likely taxis to give you a fair deal are the ones speeding past you.  Just flag them down.  Parked taxis, who solicit customers, especially around major tourist sites, you should be especially wary of.  If a person walks up to you and asks you if you need a taxi, bluntly refuse, as this person most certainly represents a non-legitimate taxi.

When you complete your journey, the taxi driver will flip the lever back up and a receipt is automatically printed.  Take this for your records.

There are at least 3 prices of Taxi in Beijing.  They are priced according to the rate per kilometer.

1.20 RMB  The cheapest taxi you can find, pretty small, but gets you where you want to go.  Comfort and quality of ride varies from awful to not too bad.  The car brand is Xiali, (Chinese, of course)

1.60 RMB  At this price range you can get a reasonably new Citroen or Volkswagen.  The car is a bit bigger, a bit faster, is likely to have suspension and the air conditioning will probably work better.  Still a very compact car by U.S. standards.

2.00 RMB  This is their best taxi ?  At least, the most expensive. The cars are likely to be old, black, biggish, the driver likely to have some customer service and even some English skills (ok, still rare).  They are likely to drive carefully too.

The taxi price is displayed inconveniently in the corner of the rear left or right right side window.  The trick is to know the types of cars so you can study the pictures of 120's and 160's above carefully !!  When you get really good, you can do this at night by headlights alone at a considerable distance.  :-)  Note, the car types and prices never vary, so if you see this kind of Citroen or Volkswagen you can be sure it is a 160, and same with the little Xiali's, they will always be 120's .

What are the places most upset with the black cars?
Black cars could be found around the subway stations, shopping malls, the entrance area and also some major tourist attractions around. The most serious areas are the railway station and Beijing Capital Airport. Especially you should pay great attention to the Beijing aiport. When arriving at the airport, keep away from drivers who approach you in the terminal or outside the terminal as they will ask for much more than the actual price. There is a taxi line just outside the terminal. Drivers should use their meter; make sure that the driver puts down the flag. Taking a taxi from the airport to Beijing downtown costs between RMB 100 and 200 according to the different distance. Beijing airport expressway toll will be paid by passengers. Beijing legitimate taxi license plates will be for the "Beijing B" otherwise it is a black taxi! After paying a legal taxi, you will get a legal computerized receipt in which you can find the taxi company's phone number while a black driver only offers you a hand-written receipt with which you will never find him! A black driver would charge you RMB 400 - RMB 500 for the airport downtown drive.

Tips for taking taxi:
1) The taxi situation at Beijing Airport is a little worse. The taxi sharks are quite active at the international arrivals doors, come straight to the official taxi area after you come out. Official taxis have a taxi sign on the roof, and on the dashboard on the passenger side is a placard with the drivers registration number. If this placard is missing then avoid it. At your destination, you should requrst a fappiao (a receipt, which is generated by the meter). If the meter isn't working, you can refuse to pay, and if the driver threatens to call the police, encourage him to do so. At this point he will write a hand-written fappiao, but make sure he (or you) writes down the car registration and the driver registration before paying your mo for the taxi.

2) Please keep the adress card from your hotel or written by your hotel staff in Chinese to show the taxi driver. A hotel card with the Hotel's name in Chinese for your return trip. So always carry a card from the hotel in the event you get lost in the city. Shown the car to the driver and ask him to bring you there. Most of the drivers are not able to speak in English with exception of a few that is specially trained lately for the 2008 games.

3) You can also charter a taxi ( as a private your own car ) for day trips to the Great Wall ( which is around 1.5 hour drive from city) or just to transfer you around various locations like Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Panjiayuan, Wangfujinging, etc. As long as it is within the city, most drivers are more than willing to let you charter their car for the day. A typical taxi will cost around RMB450 to RMB600 for an 8-hour day rental with driver. Each car can hold 4 comfortably. If you are sharing the car among 4, that is less than US$20 for a day.

4) Travlling around Beijing by taxi is quite easy. However, when it rains, it becomes a totally different situation. Keep in mind if you have a plane or train to catch, expecially if you have an unchangeable ticket! Firstly, cabs can be very difficult to find in the rain. Secondly, many taxis will simply refuse to take on longer journeys, especially to the airport and they also will refuse to go anywhere if it involves driving on the 3rd Ring Road which is jammed completely in the rain! So check the weather report and it is better to plan to get to the station or airport three hours before check-in time if your ticket is unchangeable.

5) The bridge and road tolls will be paid by passengers. For a journey that takes longer than 10 kilo or running after 23:00, the fares will be charged at 50% more.

6) The taxi situation at Beijing Railway Station is a little confusing. The vast numbers of people coming and going has made the taxi situation worse and more difficult. There are no obvious signs for the taxi line. It is best to cross the footbridge to the other side and get a taxi at the roadside anywhere along the street here. The taxi situation at Beijing Station should be solved immediately by the authorities concerned as it is a negative introduction to Beijing for visitors.

Taxi call in Beijing:
Tel: 96103
For taxi complaints:
Tel: 68351150.

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