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China's taxi market has been in a mess recently. Angry taxi drivers in Shenyang, Liaoning Province staged a strike earlier this month to protest against taxi-hailing phone apps. Last week, cabbies in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province suspended their service, demanding a reduction to the monthly franchise fees paid to taxi companies.|
Taxis are an integral part of a city's public transportation and relate to people's livelihoods. However, the industry is where both the operators and consumers are most dissatisfied. Especially in recent years, taxi drivers constantly complain about the tough workload and low salaries, while the public grumble over the difficulties of calling a taxi. People have suspicions over an interest chain between the government and taxi companies that led to a monopoly in this industry.
The old system of the taxi industry has various loopholes, and newly emerged taxi-hailing apps have raised controversies. When society is at a loss as to what to do with the dilemmas in the industry, it is common that people put the blame on the interest chain between the government and taxi companies. Such problems do exist, but their impact on the mess of the taxi market may be exaggerated.
Taxi drivers, on the one hand, are in a vulnerable position in the market. On the other hand, they have become more active in expressing themselves. Strikes by taxi drivers have been frequent and the governments are concerned. Some people proposed raising taxi drivers' salaries, but this met with objections from the public.
Reforms to the taxi industry are imperative. Taxi companies that require a high monthly franchise fee, drivers who oppose increasing the number of taxis, consumers who have been enjoying cheap services and local governments that fear troubles made by taxi drivers are all "interest groups." Each hopes the others can give way to break the current deadlock.
Market principles have fallen behind in the taxi industry. It is time to end this situation and reconstruct market mechanisms. Reforms should make ensuring the legal rights of taxi drivers and convenience of consumers a priority. As the operation model of the taxi industry in different places differs, these places have room for management innovation.
Cities where the taxi industry is managed poorly will witness more conflicts or mass incidents. Officials there should be held responsible. In places where only unlicensed taxis run wild, other fields of social governance can go nowhere.