Beijing bans smelly taxi drivers
Beijing (ANTARA News) - Beijing taxi drivers face a lifestyle makeover before the Olympics that will mean the end of spitting, smoking, weird hairstyles and dangly earrings -- and the beginning of regular baths, AFP reported.
Under the new regulations, which came into effect on Wednesday, drivers whose cabs are smelly will be suspended for two days while they undergo "rectification and reform" guidance, the Beijing News said.
Cabbies who spit or smoke, and female taxi drivers who sport big earrings or radical hairstyles, will also be banned under rules aimed at improving the city`s image ahead of next year`s Olympics.
Beijing`s taxi drivers, who typically earn around 1,500 yuan (200 dollars) a month, often sleep, eat and smoke in their vehicles.
"Many drivers pay no attention to appearances," Yao Kuo, the head of the transportation management office, was quoted as saying.
"Their mouths stink of garlic and their bodies smell, making the whole cab foul. It creates a bad impression for the taxi industry."
Yao said that outrageous dress styles were also now off limits for drivers of the 70,000 cabs on the streets of the Chinese capital.
"As a service industry, taxis have to think about appearances," Yao said.
"So from now on dying hair a bright red or yellow and making weird hairdos is banned."
Shi Xiangpeng, a top political advisor visiting from Hong Kong last month, complained bitterly about the odour of Beijing`s taxis.
"Sometimes I could smell an unbearable stink once I got into the cab, but was afraid of being too rude to get out immediately," he was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying.
"A smelly cab, though a trivial thing, may impair the country`s
international image when Beijing hosts the Olympic Games next year, as it`s not polite to the guests," he said. (*)
Yup, I heard of Chinese cab stories even from here.Beijing orders lifestyle changes in preparation for '08 Games
By STEPHEN WADE
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BEIJING -- Brush your teeth after eating garlic, be polite and don't smoke while driving.
That was the message Wednesday to Beijing's taxi drivers, who are on the frontline of a push by city officials to improve transportation and unsnarl the capital's clogged, polluted highways as the 2008 Olympics approach.
"The taxi drivers are a window through which the foreigners will see Beijing, and we need to further regulate their services," said Lin Xiaoming, vice director of the Beijing Transport Commission, an arm of Beijing's municipal government.
"Some of our residents complained that the drivers hardly knew the roads and some of the taxis were not clean," Lin said. "We are aiming to improve our entire range of transportation services."
Officials cautioned female cabbies against brightly dyed red or yellow hair and large, oversized earrings. Male drivers have been told to keep their hair short. And both were admonished to clean their cabs and brush away the garlic, a key ingredient in many Chinese dishes.
Drivers -- a few work 24-hour shifts and sleep in their cabs -- also were warned they could lose their licenses by overcharging or refusing to pick up fares.
This is the latest directive about manners to the city's 15 million residents. They've also been told to stop spitting in public, prodded to speak better English and encouraged to form neat lines instead of pushing and shoving. It's all designed to impress the 500,000 foreign visitors and 20,000 journalists expected in 16 months for the Olympics.
Taxi drivers are the "micro problem" facing Olympic traffic planners. The bigger problem is the city's chronic traffic jams and underdeveloped subway. A 6-mile, rush-hour trip Wednesday on the city's 10-lane expressway took about an hour.
Lin said about 3.3 million cars would be on Beijing's streets by the time of the Olympics -- up from only 1 million in 1996. He said during the 17-day Olympics, 20 percent to 30 percent of cars would be taken off the streets to ease the gridlock.
During the Games, government vehicles will be reduced, private owners will be urged not to drive and Olympic lanes will be set up to speed officials to venues. Parking near venues also will be restricted.
"The traffic jams are a headache for everybody who lives in Beijing," Lin said. "And they have become more frequent."
The city also is building several new subway lines, at least two of which will be operating just months before the Olympics. New bus lines are being built.
Lin said $11.7 billion had been spent in the past three years to improve Beijing's transit network, with at least that budgeted for the next three years.
Lin said city officials were encouraged by the drop in car usage five months ago during the China-Africa summit.
Using mandatory and voluntary measures, about 30 percent of vehicles were removed from the roads during the six days of meetings between Chinese and African leaders.
The measures may be a preview of the 2008 Olympics.
"This also alleviated the worries and doubts of some foreign friends who were not so sure if we would do a good job with traffic during the Beijing Olympics," Lin said.