Taxi drivers in Hangzhou go on strike
On August 1, over 1,000 taxi drivers in Hangzhou, eastern Zhejiang province, went on a strike from early morning and parked their cabs in different parts of the downtown Hangzhou to protest rising fuel costs and worsening road traffic.
The demands that taxi drivers on strike have made include: lowering operating charges and care rent they must pay to their companies and raising the minimum fare.
A cab driver complained that he makes about 500 yuan, or US$80, on each shift (two drivers alternate on two shifts per day). 220 would have to be turned in as operating charges and rent. The gas costs around 200 yuan. That makes their daily earning as little as 80 yuan ($12) before expenses on food and housing. Even though the strike incurs financial loss, drivers said they did it because they “had no other choice.”
Besides, the overcrowding of the city gets an increasing number of taxis stuck in traffic jams during rush hours, which directly affects their income that comes from rolling tires. “Before, I could strike four or five deals an hour. Now I can only get one,” a driver said.
For the past 10 years, Hangzhou’s minimum taxi fare has been 10 yuan ($1.5) within 3 kilometers, and 2.4 ($0.37) yuan for every additional kilometer after the first 3km, despite the fact that consumer prices and oil prices in China have greatly increased in the same period. Unlike in Beijing or Shanghai, waiting time does not translate to any taxi fare in Hangzhou.
The city government announced on Monday to appease disgruntled taxi drivers that it will dole out a subsidy of 1 yuan ($0.15) for every trip they take from Aug 1 until October, when a new taxi price policy will be introduced.