Had to make a business trip to Hangzhou last Thu, so I had the chance to take the spanky new high speed train 3 days into its launch. The new train station at Hongqiao is just next to the Hongqiao airport, is less crazy than the other two stations.
While the train rides to Hangzhou were only one hour, I actually spent at least 30 mins each time waiting in a supersized line for cabs, both between Hangzhou station and our office at Liyuan Plaza, and between Hongqiao station and my hotel. The subway line to the train station is not open yet, and honestly, they really need to hurry up. It’s really no fun taking cabs here!
It was also crazy trying to hail a cab off the street of Hangzhou between 3.30 pm and 5 pm because that’s when the drivers change shifts and in this city, they can jolly well choose passengers. So many of them turned me down, simply wouldn’t take me to the train station, which is quite out of the way. Forget about calling cabs because the industry is very fragmented (more than 10 cab companies, every one with only a small fleet) so there is no organised way of customer service when every cab driver has to fend for himself.
Drivers wouldn’t let passengers on the same route share the same cab either. A guy got in the cab with me, but he had to drop off halfway because the driver was nagging him. The driver later told me that had the guy offered to pay him the full fare (on top of the full fare that I’d have paid), he would take him too. So it’s the economics of money, play smart in second tier Chinese cities where the transportation system is under-developed.