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Beijing Increases Subsidy to Taxi Drivers

The Beijing municipal government has decided to subsidize taxi drivers an additional 110 yuan (US$14.6) a month, following last week's 10-percent price hike for gasoline, diesel oil and aviation kerosene.

Starting from this month, the additional subsidy will be paid to all Beijing taxi drivers to offset their rising operation costs, the Beijing government said in a statement on Saturday.

The city's fuel subsidy to taxi drivers, in place since 2005, has therefore increased to 780 yuan (US$104) per month, including 520 yuan (US$69.3) paid by taxi companies and 260 yuan (US$34.7) from the government.

The municipal development and reform commission said it does not plan to raise taxi fares before the gasoline price hits 6.1 yuan (US$0.81) per liter.

Following the recent price hike, effective as of Nov. 1, the unit price for #93 gasoline that fuels most of Beijing's taxies and private cars sells for 5.34 yuan per liter, compared with 4.9 yuan per liter before.

The additional subsidy, though not enough to offset all the extra running costs, has been welcomed by Beijing taxi drivers.

Mr. Wang, a driver with Beijing Wanquansi Taxi Co., said he would have to pay at least an additional 400 yuan for gasoline now. "Still, we're happy the government has offered to help ease some of our burdens."

Beijing has around 67,000 taxies.

(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2007)

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