On the show yesterday, we featured a report about the Chinese authorities pledging to create a fairer competition environment for traditional taxis, and the new ride-hailing services. Today we're taking a look at another angle to the story - how traditional taxis can better compete by upgrading their services by adopting new technologies?
Shouqi Limousine and Chauffer, a low profile online-hailing service in China, has become the focus of much media coverage after one transport official hailed it as a pioneer for integrating Internet technologies with traditional services.
During a highly anticipated news conference on the reform of the taxi market, Liu Xiaoming, an official with the Ministry of Transport, named Shouqi a good example of such integration.
"We especially encourage taxi companies to put driver operations under intensive management by using Internet technologies. Thanks to the development of those new technologies, we are able to do that now. For example, Shouqi in Beijing has conducted a pilot reform program in this area."
Wei Dong, CEO of Shouqi Limousine and Chauffer, says his company uses big data to get taxi drivers to where they are needed most.
"Previously, taxi drivers would hit the streets based on their own experiences. Now, using big data, we are able to figure out the demands for taxis in different areas at various times in a city. So we can guide our drivers to certain areas, so as to get more taxi calls. This will help us reduce the waste of fuel and ease the burden on traffic as a smaller number of taxis are running empty."
The CEO adds that they also use an intelligent dispatching system to benefit not only drivers but also passengers.
"The computer-controlled dispatching system will always transfer a call to the nearest taxi available. In that way, we can ensure passengers get a cab as soon as possible, while drivers don't need to pick calls by themselves."
Wei Dong says that with the help of new technologies, taxi companies are now able to solve some longstanding problems in the taxi market such as rude and careless service.
"Passengers can rate their drivers via the apps on their own mobile phones after using our service. Based on passengers' views and the results of our random inspections, we will award a star assessment to every driver, which will be directly linked to their income."
Wei says drivers would be downgraded if they receive many complaints, and the wage they earn would also be cut.
Shouqi Limousine and Chauffer, founded in 2015, is an affiliate company of Shouqi Group which also runs a traditional taxi business.
Wei Dong says the launch of the new company was an attempt to counter the competition pressure brought by ride-hailing services.