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Firm shutters fleet of British-style taxis

    The owner of a fleet of 50 British-style taxis that started operation in 2014 yesterday said it shuttered the fleet last Friday.

    Qiangsheng Taxi Company said it did so because the taxis’ high consumption of petrol increased maintenance costs, and the factory in Shanghai that manufactured the taxis had stopped production of the vehicles years ago, leaving the taxi company without spare parts.

    The British-style taxis, dubbed “golden cabs” because of their yellow exterior, were designed to cater to passengers with special needs, such as disabled wheelchair users.

    Their flagfall fare was 19 yuan (US$2.90), 5 yuan more than those of standard taxis and 3 yuan more than those of Tu’an taxis, which have a roomier interior than standard taxis.

    “I can hardly recall the last time I saw one of those British-style taxis on the street,” said a Qiangsheng taxi driver who identified himself as Huang.

    “There are rumours that they were retired long before December.”

    Dong Haoliang, who regularly takes taxis to Pudong Airport, recalled that Shanghai Dazhong Taxi Company had operated a fleet of imported Mercedes-Benz taxis years ago.

    “It was expensive and the drivers were arrogant,” said Dong. “Those British-style taxis had similar problems. The drivers used to refuse to take passengers whose destinations were close by.”

    Qiangsheng Taxi said it might introduce an additional 50 seven-passenger minivans next January.

    “We won’t forget about the disabled and business people who need bigger space,” said Zhang Liang, Qiangsheng’s Taxi’s director.

    “It is our social responsibility to cater to them.”

    In September, Qiangsheng Taxi put its first 100 seven-passenger minivans into service. They became so popular that people had to book them in advance.

    The minivans have a flagfall fare of 19 yuan.