Beijing traffic authorities Thursday denied media claims that the taxi fare is set to rise from 2 yuan ($0.3) to 2.4 yuan per kilometer.
Nevertheless, taxi drivers and experts applauded the claims, saying a fare increase could help ease traffic as well as making it easier to hail a cab.
The rate per kilometer was raised from 1.5 to 2 yuan in Beijing in 2005 and has not changed since. China National Radio reported Thursday that the fare will rise to 2.4 yuan per kilometer while flag fall will rise from 10 to 15 yuan.
The reports have drawn thousands of comments on social media. Most Web users oppose the fare increase. Some said the government uses price rises as solutions to all problems, and it will not solve the problems of being able to get a cab. Others said they would still use cabs if they are in a hurry, despite the cost.
Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport (BMCT) denied the reports saying that it is just a rumor.
An anonymous employee from the Transportation Administration of BMCT, who specializes in the taxi industry, while denying the reports, agreed that fares should in fact be increased.
"One thing is that standard taxi fares in some Western countries are much more expensive than in Beijing," he said. The other reason is that the current number of taxis cannot meet public needs since the price is so cheap that it is used as a regular means of transport.
Wang Yan, a taxi driver from Beijing Shouqi Taxi Company, said that she supports an increase in fares, but hopes this will not mean extra payments to cab companies.
"When the fare increases, I hope the quotas won't be increased too like the last time," she said, noting that some companies did increase the quota when the fares increased. Taxi drivers have to pay 5,170 yuan to the cab company monthly in rent, as well as paying their regular fuel and maintenance costs.
Wang said she is not worried about a possible decline in passenger numbers.
"Those who need to take taxis will still do so regardless of the price," she said.
Meng Bin, professor of urban planning at Beijing Union University, said that this alleged policy could motivate drivers to work more in peak hours.
"When the cost of living is increasing, the fare should also be raised for the basic interests of the taxi drivers," he said.