Following up on the previous Taxis post, a little more info:
With two more weeks gone by, the experience is pretty much the same. A sizable portion of taxi drivers in smaller neighborhoods will simply not stop for foreigners. At busier areas, such as outside Walmart, the chances of getting a taxi to agree to a fare are substantially higher, but it is still hit or miss. One oddity of taxi service here is that, even though the fare is theoretically regulated, if you happen to need a taxi from the train station, expect to haggle. A group of cabs are likely to be waiting for arrivals, and will quote ridiculous unmetered prices to your chosen destination. Those fluent in Mandarin will likely be able to haggle down to a reasonable fare. But if the Bearded Giant was on his own? He would expect to pay triple or more.
Triple what, you ask?
The standard fare in Changchun is a 5RMB flag for the first 2.5km and 1.3RMB per kilometer after that. This is substantially cheaper than in China’s largest cities. (In Shanghai, the current flag is 14RMB for the first 3km and 2.4RMB per km after that.)
How can they possibly make a living at those prices? I have to assume there are subsidies paid to the taxi drivers by the government. Because at current fuel costs of 6.5RMB per liter, and roughly 6 liters per 100km in a typical Volkswagen Sagitar, nearly a third of the taxi fare is required just to pay for fuel. If a driver was lucky enough to get 400,000km out of his Sagitar, he’s paying another 0.45RMB per kilometer just to pay for the initial price of the car. When you start adding repairs, tires, oil changes, etc, there is essentially nothing left over for the driver.
So the prices are artificially kept down to keep them affordable for the People. And presumably the drivers are subsidized to keep taxis on the road.