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City taxis lauded but data iffy

SHANGHAI cabs have been listed among the 10 greatest taxis in the world by cnngo.com, although the honor may be dubious given that the travel guide website, under the US-based television news network CNN, couldn't even get the car right. The city's Volkswagen taxis ranked ninth on the list. The reasons for Shanghai taxi to sit in the ninth spot included the taxis' speed, cheap price and the rather questionable distinction of being "a little bit dirty." "There's nothing iconic about Shanghai's humdrum fleet of Volkswagen Jettas and it's never clear if the Perspex screen around the driver is to keep phlegm in or out," said the website. "But to zip in a cab over the city's elevated neon expressways is to truly experience modern Shanghai: cheap, fast and just a little bit dirty." Internet surfers soon correctly pointed that Shanghai taxis are VW Santanas, not Jettas. But cnngo.com's top lists are not known for their completeness, authority or apparently their accuracy. London's renowned black cabs took the top spot, with the site saying the taxis "are piloted by a sterling breed of polymaths." New York City's yellow cabs ranked second. Hong Kong ranked ahead of Shanghai in seventh place. The list, however, was not met with approval from passengers or operators. Adam Minter, an American writer who stays in Shanghai, said earlier that "by 2013, it'll be more expensive to sit down in a Shanghai taxi than a New York City taxi" after the city raised the taxi fares in July. The fares, with a flag-down price of 14 yuan (US$2.20), are far from cheap to most locals, passengers said. The flag-down price in New York is US$2.50, while the cab price in Shanghai is about the same that in Seoul, South Korea. Taxi managers said they have high standards concerning the cleanliness of cabs. "We'd ask drivers to do the cleaning work regularly at our maintenance base, in and out," said an official surnamed Guan, with local Dazhong Taxi Co, one of the leading operators.

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