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Did Kunming's bus station reshuffle create more illegal taxis?

By in Features on

Kunming is cracking down on illegal taxis – five months after the city's relocation of long distance bus stations may have actually bolstered demand for the so-called "black cars".

It started late last year when 11 long distance bus stations near the city center were shuttered and consolidated into five new stations situated around Kunming's periphery. A lack of publicity about the moves caused confusion among many travelers.

Now, as one New Life Times reporter rather diplomatically puts it, "As the long distance bus stations have relocated to the outskirts, certain infrastructure has temporarily failed to keep pace."

What has failed to keep pace is public transportation options that allow passengers to actually get to and from the stations, a market gap that has been a boon to illegal taxi drivers.

One example is the Northwest Bus Station, which is served by only three public bus lines. It is also located in an area unfrequented by licensed taxis, a problem that afflicts other stations including the West Station in the Majie area that serves popular tourist destinations including Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-la.

As a result, the area outside the stations has become a hive of illegal taxis, known in Chinese as "black cars" (黑车). Passengers frequently resort to these cars when there are no buses or licensed taxis to be found.

A market has even developed for intermediary agents who try to direct travelers to illegal taxis. One such agent said she earns a one to two yuan commission per passenger and sometimes snares as many as 40 passengers a day.

During the April 6 to 21 crackdown, authorities from the transportation branch of the Public Security Bureau are working with other municipal bureaus to impound illegal taxis – with bus stations a focus of the campaign.

It remains unclear how the city will address the underlying transportation problems facing the new stations.

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Almost certainly. Why just not allow them? Or the xiao-gong-gong (Semi-private minibuses)? Waiting 5 years till the El is (supposedly) finished is not a good option.

The proliferation of illegal taxis has stemmed pressure on the city to revamp their woefully inadequate taxi system. Licensed cabbies have a lot of legitimate complaints, but their attitude and the shortcomings of the system are becoming untenable. Drivers frequently refuse to take people to places they deem too far or unprofitable, something which is illegal, and it seems every taxi in the city switches drivers at dinner time, which is when they're needed the most.

For now, people just shrug their shoulders and hop in a black cab. I hope that the crackdown will expose the deeper problems, and the local media will start to follow this story. When I came to Kunming 10 years ago, it had one of the best run taxi systems in the country. The problem is, it's still the same system today.

the launch of the new bus stations was rather rushed and haphazard, but i think it is a good move.

now, we just need the rest of the infrastructure to catch up - not just transport links, but also ticketing - downtown ticket offices (like with train tickets), or a ticket infrastructure that any authorised travel agent can interface to (like with air tickets) would be great. having to trek out to the bus station to buy tickets and then trek back a few days later to take the bus is less than efficient.


Planning is carried out by individuals who often never need to use buses or taxis - or their feet for that matter.

If you're a pedestrian or a bus user you have lower status than a kid on a two wheeler with stabilizers.

Just look at how the young and the elderly, the fit and the unfit, the abled and disabled...... and everyone in between, have to run the gauntlet when attempting to cross a junction on a green light.

Without 'illegal' taxis I'd have problems getting into town. 'You no car? Then you no matter!'

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