Sure, it’s easy to quibble about Beijing drivers – from the grizzled taxi hacks that refuse to pick you up to the aspiring Uber chauffeurs that incessantly lose their way because they’re bewildered by the app's simple pin feature. Then there’s the fiendish speed demons, whose herky-jerk attempts to cut other vehicles off leave passengers with whiplash or worse. Such gripes were the focus of a post by Shameless at the end of last month, the English-speaking community’s premium source for snarky social media commentary.

And while there’s plenty of truth in the popular WeChat group’s latest takedown, we’d be remiss to overlook the virtues of Beijing’s stock of quirky drivers.

Don’t roll your eyes just yet. After reading the list below, you might realize how you’ve taken our city’s dogged drivers for granted.

El Cheapo Fares
Yes, the days of a good old dirt cheap cab ride are long gone in Beijing. But we should still count ourselves lucky. That’s because a 2015 UBS Prices and Earnings report ranked Beijing 56 out of 71 cities around the world in terms of cab fare. It estimated a three mile daytime ride in the Chinese capital to be USD 4.42 (RMB 28.62). That places us above the cheapest locales, New Delhi and Kiev, which respectively only cost USD 1.54 (RMB 9.97) and USD 1.59 (RMB 10.30) under the same conditions. Sadly, we’re also pricier than longtime rival Shanghai, which took the 61 slot at USD 3.13 (RMB 20.27).

However, Beijing is well below the world’s priciest fare, which belongs to Oslo at USD 32.10 (a staggering RMB 207.87), not to mention the midrange prices of Nicosia, Lisbon and Manama, which all ranked around USD 8 (or about RMB 50). Better still: the fare for an Uber or Didi Kuadi helps thrifty Beijingers save even more.

A Thankless Task
Sitting in gridlock is an undeniable hassle for us passengers. But just imagine what’s it like to be behind the wheel. The stress of going bumper to bumper with countless other pushy drivers is only the most obvious hurdle for local shifu. Any passenger that has seen Miao Wang’s acclaimed documentary Beijing Taxi – which vividly details the class issues heaped on the capital’s underpaid cabbies – will likely show some patience during their next fare. Plenty of recent articles are also bound to inspire such compassion, especially one that detailed the hole-in-the-wall noodle joints that local cabbies rely on to ensure their shifts aren’t disrupted by a bout of diarrhoea. Another recent popular piece profiled the type of privileged but lonesome roadsters who use Uber for business networking and even friend finding – prompting pity from some readers, and even a few contemptuous chuckles from others. Regardless, it doesn’t take much digging to reveal the dynamically quirky personalities who dare to climb behind the wheel in Beijing – some of whom justifiably irk us on bad days, but who also can proove to be endearing companions during smoother commutes. That also explains their long held reputation as the capital’s unofficial mascots.

No Tips   
There's nothing quite as shitty as being guilt-tripped or pseudo-threatened into tipping a cabbie in cities like New York. Without a standard to go by, these situations grow tiresome at best, and always leave the passenger wondering if they over or under tipped.

Taxi Tech
Hailing a ride with a mobile app might have seemed futuristic a mere few years ago. Now this indispensable convenience is seeing even more innovations. Just last week, Uber debuted a fancy new facial recognition feature in China to help keep drivers accountable. Meanwhile, the Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission recently unveiled a plan to have city-wide electric powered cabs by the decade’s end.

Photo: The Telegraph


Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog