Beijing taxi to become IC card friendly before Olympics

created: 2008-07-29

About 67,000 taxicabs in the Olympic host city of Beijing will soon be able to take payment with pre-paid public transport cards, making traveling in the city more convenient.

From Aug. 1, taxi passengers can pay either in cash or with the IC card, which has been widely used for the city's buses, subway and even some convenience stores.

Taxi fares will be deducted from the credit on the card, which can save both the driver and the passenger from hassles such as giving small change.

The Beijing Traffic Management Bureau has asked all taxi drivers to have their meters updated to allow the card payment.

This is seen as the latest step to encourage commuters in the city of 17million to use public transport rather than private cars, particularly before the Olympic Games begin on Aug. 8.

The capital implemented an odd-even alternate-day ban on 3 million privately owned motor vehicles on July 20 in order to guarantee smoother traffic flows and cleaner air during the Olympics.

This has prompted more Beijingers to use public transport, which already offers discounts for public transport card holders.  

The IC card has gained increasing popularity since it was launched in April 2006 to replace traditional paper tickets. About 20 million cards had been issued so far, the Beijing Morning Post reported.

Many taxi drivers had resisted the cards, claiming they were too time-consuming as all charged fares would first go to the taxi company before they are returned to the drivers.

But the authorities had promised drivers payment within three days, the newspaper said.