And the locals are not happy about it.
Chinese media is reporting en masse a story that,at first glance, seems impossible: During rush hour in Beijing, taxis can be found parked idle at the curb in the busiest parts of the city, as would-be passengers struggle to find a ride. As Beijing residents complain that it is becoming harder to hail a cab in the city, cabbies grumble that low fares, high monthly fees, and gridlock make driving during rush hour a money-losing endeavor-and that it is hard to scrape by even when driving conditions are good.
So many cabs, so few willing drivers
In one widely-circulated news report, a Beijing cab driver with over ten years' experience was quoted as saying that "more than ten thousand" cabs could be found parked around the city's center during rush hour, their drivers refusing to carry passengers until traffic subsided. Even when taxis do stop for passengers during peak traffic times, they often refuse rides if they think that the road ahead will be congested.
"It takes half an hour to hail a cab during rush hour, and even then it depends on the driver's mood," complained one Beijing commuter. "If you can't reach an agreement with the driver, they just leave." It is not uncommon for cabbies to bargain for a higher fare than they would get on-meter.
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But cab drivers in Beijing protest that the costs of running a taxi are too high to make a decent living under the best traffic conditions, let alone during rush hour. According to a chart compiled by China Youth Daily, if a cab driver in Beijing works every day of the week for 10 hours a day, the basic costs of running his cab -- including rent paid to the cab company, car maintenance and gas -- come to around 30 RMB (about $4.83) per hour. This causes many drivers to park their taxis during rush hour, when it can often take 40 minutes to travel a single kilometer and leave cabbies earning less than their basic expenses.