Following the crackdown on taxi-finding smartphone apps in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, the head of the Shanghai Municipal Transport and Port Authority has spoken up to say that it is illegal for taxi drivers to charge premiums when using taxi-finding smartphone apps.

According to a Beijing News report (via Tech in Asia), Sun Jianping said that taxi drivers should strictly abide by rules that include going by a reasonable route and charging customers by the meter. Taxi drivers who charge extra by using taxi-finding smartphone apps will be severely penalised, he said.

The report, however, also noted that Sun emphasised on the positive aspects of taxi-finding smartphone apps, saying that they bring a lot of convenience to customers, and can lower the number of taxis that aren’t ferrying passengers.

However, he expressed concerns about safe driving by taxi drivers while using such apps, and unruly bidding by passengers who need a taxi.

Shanghai is reportedly in the midst of coming up with regulations for the taxi-booking industry, which will cover taxi-finding smartphone apps.

Meanwhile, the report noted that back in April, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport had said that authorities would set regulations in place for third-party taxi-finding smartphone apps. If these apps meet the requirements, taxi drivers can continue using them.

The city will on June 1 launch its own taxi booking services, which boasts of 24-hour call-in booking and getting a taxi via the Internet or mobile. It was reported last month that Beijing authorities had been considering a foray into the taxi mobile app space.

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