Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

China- Motorcycle taxis see need for speed

If you want to really get into the Chinese transport culture, maybe a hairy ride on a motorcyle taxi is the way to go…Zhang Yue explains:

If you visit Hefei, capital of Anhui province, don’t be surprised if you see an elegantly dressed woman on the back of a dilapidated motorcycle ridden by a bruiser. Very likely, she just could not get a cab.

Traffic congestion is well documented in first-tier cities such as Beijing, where the average commute from home to work takes 52 minutes.

It is only 28 minutes in second-tier Hefei, but when cabs are stuck in traffic, people who need to get somewhere quickly are stymied.

Enter the freelance motorcycle taxi, which can zip between cars idling in the clogged traffic lanes.
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Lu Yu, a teacher from Bengbu, also in Anhui province, discovered this late last year when he was on a short business trip to Hefei.

He could not find a cab to take him from Hefei University of Technology to his hotel. All the ones he saw were occupied, but motorcyclists kept passing him, asking whether he needed a ride.

“No, I’d rather take a taxi,” he said.

“You won’t catch one!” one motorcyclist shouted.

“Twenty minutes later, I realized that he might be right,” Lu said. And so he took his only choice for a ride to the hotel.

He was scared. The motorcycle was “crazily speeding” in the rain, he said, and ignored several red traffic lights — both common complaints about motorcyclists. Then he was startled to pay the same fare as he would have for a standard cab.

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