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Taxis in Shanghai

PostPosted: 17 Sep 2010, 06:52
by goose egg
Earlier this week, a taxi driver here in Shanghai was chatting with my wife, and told her he skipped picking up foreign passengers when he could, unless they were obviously tourists -- as much as possible he avoided foreign residents. He says many/most other drivers do the same.

She asked why, and he explained that foreign residents usually had very poor Mandarin pronunciation, so it is difficult to understand them when they try to say where they want to go. And then, they typically have very short tempers, and when the cab goes to the wrong place -- remember their destination and instructions are practically incomprehensible in the first place -- the foreign residents refuse to pay. So much for Better City, Better Living ;)

I don't seem to have a big problem problem flagging down cabs, but then, from a distance (in a moving vehicle) I probably pass for a Chinese person to many drivers; I'm Filipino. That same driver told her that one time, he passed by a white passenger in favor of who he thought was a local passenger, but who turned out to be Japanese. When the Japanese passenger asked why the driver skipped the other foreigner, the driver replied, "I couldn't tell you were Japanese"

On the flip side, last night, a friend visiting Shanghai for the World Expo asked me for examples of frustrating moments living here. I had been talking about how living in Shanghai makes one absolutely love living in Taipei (like this thread), because any inconveniences you may experience living in Taipei seem to be magnified living here. Taxi stories are popular ones with me and my foreign friends here. Lately, I don't find the taxi drivers I ride with as aggravating as when I first got here -- but this is probably because I take the subway and buses as often as I can, and my pronunciation for the few places I regular take a taxi to has improved over the years. I have also developed simple instructions for how to get home -- my Mandarin may make me sound like a 6-year old girl, but hey, it works! I guess I am not surprised that the door swings both ways between how foreign residents and taxi drivers feel about each other, but I still find it interesting that for some of these guys, we are just as annoying as they are to us.

Any tips you can share about taxis in Shanghai?

At the Portman, skip the double-queue managed by the hotel, and wait for the cab on the side walk where the driveway exits. They should move the queue there, but it's too far from the hotel entrance. The design of the large 3-lane driveway at the Portman means that cabs on the far lane are often skipped by the queue bellman, so leave the complex without any passengers. Standing at the exit of the driveway not only positions you to be seen by all taxis that arrive at the building, it puts you first in your "own" line. I can almost guarantee you will wait no more than 5 minutes... in the rain, no less.

Worst place to get a cab: Changle Lu at Maoming or Shanxi South Roads, behind the Okura Garden Hotel. Too much passenger competition on major destination roads nearby, like Huai Hai Lu. You are really better off hoofing it to the Line 1 or Line 9 subway stations on Huai Hai

Re: Taxis in Shanghai

PostPosted: 17 Sep 2010, 08:46
by greenmark
Well, one of the things I remember about Shanghai is that the taxis were in the large part very, very honest. It was extremely rare to get driven a long way round. Taxis in Beijing, though, are completely different.

I do recall one driver who preferred taking foreigners because they were always polite. He could tell how long a foreigner had been in Shanghai by how impolite they had become.

And another case I recall a taxi telling a young girl to get out of the taxi. I had been waiting with my elderly parents at a very busy time of day and when a taxi stopped she rushed in front, opened the door and jumped in to steal the taxi (unfortunately that's a very common occurance). The driver obviously looked the the age of my parents and gave the girl a right rollocking.

Re: Taxis in Shanghai

PostPosted: 17 Sep 2010, 12:36
by redwagon
My golden rule with Shanghai cabbies is never to expect the driver to know an address or even the major streets on the 'other' side of the river. Most of them work either the Pudong or Puxi side and rarely cross over. If it's a trip I do often I know the best route already and just guide the driver turn by turn to stop him running off on his own course. Otherwise I state the area I want to go first, then give him the street address when we get close. The driver will normally ask for the address first and then fail to listen to the area. If he knows a street with a similar name in a whole other area it will be really hard to stop him going there, despite all your protesting that he's going the wrong way.

Actually getting a cab in the first place is a whole other story. I try to figure out where nearby will have people alighting from cabs, like subway stations, hotels, shopping areas etc. to intercept them there. Rush hour or rain there are never enough cabs.

Re: Taxis in Shanghai

PostPosted: 17 Sep 2010, 19:09
by Tomas
Interesting take, Gus. I'm in Shanghai now and will be for the whole week, and I have similar experiences with them. There aren't enough of them available--I spent 45 minutes trying to flag one down before I got one during a trip here in June. What a giant pain. I dread a situation where I'm in a hurry and reliant on a taxi in Shanghai.

And I've had several drivers get lost on me. Thank God for the maps function on my iPhone.

One more thing--since I started traveling to Shanghai regularly, I started polling other people who come here every month. To a man, they all feel the same sense of joy and relief that I do when returning to Taiwan. If you have complaints about living in Taiwan, try Shanghai sometime.

Re: Taxis in Shanghai

PostPosted: 17 Sep 2010, 19:42
by Deuce Dropper
They don't like expat whitey cuz he is onto their slimy ass games. I was given 3 different fake 50RMB notes from three different cabbies in a couple of days before I got wise to their shenanigans and then later caught a driver trying to pull the same crap on me (this was a year and a half ago), called him out and things got sour quickly.

Re: Taxis in Shanghai

PostPosted: 17 Sep 2010, 20:15
by redwagon
Deuce Dropper wrote:I was given 3 different fake 50RMB notes from three different cabbies in a couple of days...

Oh yeah. I forgot about that. Prime source of dodgy bills. Mind you, when I have fakes, I always pass them back to the cabbies.

Shanghai tip: Transit card from any station pays for buses, subway, light rail, ferries and taxis. No fumbling for change, no chance of getting funny money back.

Where the hell is Lord Lucan? He loves Shanghai cabs.

Re: Taxis in Shanghai

PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 11:47
by Satellite TV
I usually travel by taxi in off peak times. I have also learnt to its better to get to some destinations on the subway as well.

I only had one incident when trying to get from Jing'an to Pudong where the taxi driver didnt know where I needed to go as he wasn't familiar enough.

I've never had a taxi driver just pass me by though. Now I am more familiar and know some of the different ways to get around I've found Shanghai TAxi drivers ok if you first of all know where you are going.

I guess being able to tell them in Chinese helps as well.

Re: Taxis in Shanghai

PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 15:42
by Edgar Allen
If you like living on the edge take a taxi from the airport into town - most of them seem to think they have become Ayrton Senna, only without the brakes, or general driving skills to make up for the speed - truly terrifying however many time you do it.