Saturday, March 03, 2012

A long walk home

It has become impossible to get a cab between 11pm and midnight.

Especially in inclement weather, such as the spasm of damp cold that has suddenly gripped Beijing again for the past couple of days.

And especially on a weekend night. And most especially on a Friday.

And in Sanlitun??  Forget it.

Last night I walked back all the way from The Bookworm to Gulou, a distance of getting on for 7 miles. NOT ONE free cab. I must have passed dozens, no, hundreds of people (mostly young Chinese) waiting hopefully for one at the side of the road. Many of them may be waiting still.

This is what's happened to our taxi service provision over the last four or five years. With the increase in access to the distant suburbs through the opening up of new subway lines, and the explosive growth of the 'middle class', the number of people looking to use cabs - at least at peak times - has probably gone up four- or five-fold; but the size of the fleet has contracted.

I used to say Beijing was the best place in the world for picking up a cab. Not any more. Not on a Friday night.

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