Taxis at a bus stop opposite Tongren Hospital on Xianxia Road yesterday. (Gloria Chen)
To address complaints from taxi drivers about the increasing number of streets they are banned from stopping and picking up or releasing passengers, Shanghai traffic police have carved out some exclusive taxi slots at bus stops.
Police said yesterday there are currently 97 taxi slots at 79 bus stops around the city.
On average about 10 taxis an hour use the slots — which are marked with a signpost stating "taxi" and three Chinese characters meaning taxi painted on the ground — police said.
However, some of the slots, especially those near large public facilities, such as the one opposite Tongren Hospital on Xianxia Road in Changning District, are much busier.
A taxi driver surnamed Lu told Shanghai Daily yesterday that he wants to see many more such taxi slots. "I have been fined several times for stopping on streets marked with yellow lines, but sometimes I really had no choice but to release passengers there illegally."
Since March last year, when Shanghai traffic police embarked on an across-the-board campaign cracking down on traffic offenses, numerous streets have been painted with yellow no-parking lines in an effort to curb illegal parking.
Drivers face a 200 yuan () fine with three demerits on their licenses if they are caught defying regulations.
"Only bus stops which are long enough and with not too many buses using them, are ideal for such taxi slots so that the traffic flow won't be disturbed too much," said Zou Shen, an official of the road infrastructure department of the traffic police. Zou said "harbor-shaped" bus stops, whereby the bus has an off-road bay to park, were best suited for the taxi slots.
The slots are usually located at the head of the bus stops so that taxis won't block the buses behind them. But some bus drivers are complaining that taxi drivers are parking in the slots for too long.
"Sometimes the taxi driver won't drive away immediately after releasing the passengers, and I can't just overtake him from the next lane because this street is busy almost all the time," said Ding Wei, a bus driver on the No. 54 route.
Meanwhile, at the bus stop opposite Tongren Hospital, a number of taxis were observed stopping for passengers at places outside the slot, and private car drivers were seen using the taxi slot to pick up people.
Zou said such offenses could lead to fines of 200 yuan. "We understand that a few taxi slots at bus stops cannot satisfy the needs of all taxi drivers and residents, and we will keep working with transportation and health authorities to address the problem."