The Strange Reluctance of Beijing Taxi Drivers

Taxi-drivers in Beijing are every bit as annoying as taxi-drivers in Egypt, but for the opposite reason.  In Cairo, you are swamped with taxi-drivers. Everywhere you go, they honk and beckon, trying to entice you into their dilapidated vehicle.  Leave the airport or bus station, and you swarmed by drivers, like a queen bee surrounded by persistent, irritating drones, each imploring you to “Take my taxi! Best price!”

In Beijing? Not so much.

When we all compare notes on what we find most difficult about living here, invariably it comes down to getting around. There is great public transport, but you have to know where you’re going, which bus to take, or which subway stop you want to get off at. That’s daunting in itself.  Often, then you’ll decide to take a taxi.  But just try getting one to stop!

Seriously–you might flag down 10 taxis before you’ll find one who will actually take you someplace.  The driver may just be sitting in his car, but he won’t want to take you anywhere.  At first I thought it was a “because I’m a foreigner” thing, but it happens to locals, too.  One of my friends had to just a few miles, and by the time she as on her 5th taxi, she was practically on her knees in the street, begging him to take her.

And she lives right in town!  I live 25 minutes away from the closest section of Beijing proper, and that makes it even harder.  But even out here in Shunyi, it can be hard to find a taxi-driver who actually wants to, you know, drive!

Weird.