Some cheating taxi drivers got their comeuppance in the wake of the National Day holidays.
The law enforcement department from Shanghai's municipal transportation commission carried out a string of operations after the holidays to tackle irregular behavior of taxi drivers parked outside premium hotels.
Both the hotels and guests reported taxi drivers had refused to take passengers to nearby destinations, while some others took the long way around to take people to the airports.
The commission received an anonymous complaint letter from a luxury hotel in Jing'an district that stated taxi drivers parked in front of the hotel would refuse to take passengers unless their destination was Pudong airport.
Officers went to check and noticed one cab came to the hotel early in the morning and occupied the first taxi parking lot. When guests from the hotel wanted to go to somewhere other than Pudong airport, the driver would turn them down. Even if the passengers appealed to hotel staff for help, the driver wouldn't budge.
Law enforcement officers, however, worked out an operation plan called "removing the thorn." A squad came to the hotel at 6am on October 13. Two hours later the target taxi showed up. An undercover officer asked the driver to go to a traffic junction and was refused at once.
But the taxi driver was in for a shock. The officer showed the driver his badge and as, according to regulations, the taxi driver now faces a 200 yuan (US.35) fine and a 15-day suspension.
Days after the operation, the hotel told the commission that irregular behavior by taxi drivers had dropped sharply.
News of the success of the "removing the thorn" operation has resulted in more people reporting taxi drivers' underhand tactics to the commission.
Yesterday, undercover law enforcement officers struck again. This time they took a taxi at the crossroads of Nanjing Road E. and Jiujiang Road to go to Pudong airport.
The distance and fare shown on the taximeter was 54.4 kilometers and 196 yuan.
"When driving under normal conditions, the distance should be 40.8 kilometers," said one of the officers, "which means the driver's taxi's meter recorded another 30 percent extra distance from nowhere."
Officers told Shanghai Daily that they found the taximeter reading was abnormally fast.
Later they found out that the driver had inserted a small black device that allowed him to manipulate the taxi's meter to keep recording the distance while the taxi wasn't moving because of traffic.
The driver confessed that he was using the device to overcharge, and his licence for taxi operation was withdrawn by the authority.
Another team of undercover officers took a taxi on Guling Road to Pudong airport. The driver took the outer ring road instead of the middle ring, a far longer route. The driver was fine 2,000 yuan for doing so.
Jin Xiao, the captain of law enforcement department, said his officers will keep up their checks until all the "thorns" in the taxi industry are removed.
Jin encourages the public to dial 12345 or 12319 to report irregular behavior and to supply video evidence.