2008-05-23 02:57:49 GMT 2008-05-23 10:57:49 (Beijing Time) China Daily
GUANGZHOU - Whenever she needs a taxi to the airport, office worker Sun Xiaonan calls one of the three taxi firms in Guangzhou a day in advance.
"I try not to a hail a taxi on the street. More often than not, I would miss my flight if I tried," she told China Daily.
She said trying to get a taxi during the rush hours or in inclement weather was even more difficult.
"I would be lucky to get a taxi in less than 20 minutes," Sun said.
"It is high time the government did something to reverse the situation."
Sun's concerns could be short-lived.
The municipal government plans to put 700 more taxis on the roads this year to meet the increasing demand.
"The government plans to increase the number of taxis in the next six months," Feng Changcheng, a press officer with the municipal communication commission, said yesterday.
He said the additional taxis will be able to carry more than 60,000 passengers a day.
Guangzhou currently has more than 16,700 taxis in service.
And the booming southern city now has a population of 12 million.
Feng said the government's decision is based on the fact that the daily occupancy rate of taxis had surpassed 70 percent, and between 8 am and 10 pm, the average is almost 74 percent, a record high.
However, some taxi drivers have a different view of the situation.
"What has made it difficult for people to get taxis are the traffic jams rather than the shortage," Gu Daoshan, a taxi driver, said.
Gu said the traffic jams hold up the circulation of taxis, and more taxis will just add to the congestion.
"The government is trying to cure the feet, when it is the head that needs attention," Gu said.
At the start of this year, Guangzhou has banned the use of motorbikes within the city center to alleviate traffic pressure.
A recent survey by the Guangzhou society and public opinion center covering more than 1,600 people in the city showed most people were generally satisfied with the taxi service, although they complained waiting times were too long.