ESWN has a fascinating translation of a recent posting by Shanghai blogger Run Liu. It gives us a peek into the mind of one of Shanghai’s most calculating and successful taxi drivers. As ESWN points out, it’s a good thing most taxi drivers don’t think like this guy — we’d never get picked up outside of subway stations. Here is a taste:
“You calculate. I have to pay 380 RMB to the company each day for the car. The gas is about 210 RMB. I work 17 hours per day. On an hourly basis, the fixed cost is the 22 RMB that I give to the taxi company and an average of 12.5 RMB per hour in gasoline expenses. Isn’t that 34.5 RMB?” I was a bit surprised. I have taken taxis for ten years, but this is the first time that a taxi driver has calculated the costs this way. Previously, the taxi drivers all tell me that the cost per kilometer was 0.3 RMB in addition to the total company fee.
“Costs should not be calculated on a per-kilometer basis. It should be calculated on an hourly basis. You see, each meter has a ‘review’ function through which you can see the details of the day. I have done a data analysis. The averarge time gap between customers is seven minutes. If I started counting the costs when someone gets in, it is 10 RMB for about 10 minutes. That means each 10 RMB customer takes 17 minutes of time, which costs 9.8 RMB (=34.5 x 17 / 60). This is not making money! If we say that customers who want to go to Pudong, Hangzhou or Qingpu are like meals, then a 10 RMB customer is not even a bite of food. You can only say that this is just a sprinkle of MSG.”
The whole thing is worth reading. Find out why he’s more likely to pick you up outside of a hospital if you are carrying a wash basin instead of medicine.
Unfortunately, as the second ESWN translation at the above link shows, the notoriety this RMB 8,000-a-month cabbie received didn’t make him popular with his co-workers. And they didn’t take his offer to impart his “business wisdom” kindly. Some said they would ram his car if they saw him on the street. The taxi driver is, however, reportedly getting relatively lucrative offers for speaking engagements from “many famous Chinese and overseas companies and higher institutions.”
Photo of a Shanghai taxi driver from doggage.