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Suzhou safe from turf war of taxi booking apps

Feb 21, 2014 | By Pan Zheng

Didi Taxi and Kuaidi Taxi, two taxi booking applications promoted by e-commerce giants Tencent and Alibaba, are courting users by offering cash subsidies. But their turf war will not spread to Suzhou as the city already has a public taxi call center, local officials said.

They said Suzhou passengers and taxi drivers cannot enjoy the subsidies – about 10 yuan per trip for both the rider and the driver if the fare is paid via TenPay or Alipay – because all taxi booking apps are linked to the city’s unified call center and their payment function is disabled.

Besides, the city’s taxi management regulations forbid drivers to install taxi booking apps on their phones. Officials said the apps will put people who don’t use the apps at a disadvantage to hail a taxi. Cabbies who check their mobile phone while driving can cause danger and they tend to select customers through bargain.

“The war between the two taxi booking apps will not happen in Suzhou,” said Fei Xinyi, director of Suzhou Taxi Call Center. “All booking calls will come to us first and we will then pass the information to taxi drivers through a walky-talky installed in every car.”

He said there is no loophole for drivers to raise prices and fares can only be paid in cash or by a citizen card.

“Suzhou cabbies can only use the call center for booking information. If they violate the rules, passengers can report to us,” Fei said.

Last month an average of 855 people used the taxi booking apps to get a taxi, 74.13 percent more than in December, the call center showed. But the daily number shot up to 1,406 between February 10 and 16, 64 percent more than in January.

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