Last updated on Nov 12, 2012
Suzhou has some 4,000 taxis operated by more than 20 taxi companies, and still it’s not easy to catch a cab during rush hours or on rainy days.
Rickshaws remain the recommended transportation mode from one scenic spot to another in the old town, where it’s better to enjoy a slow pace of life among the tourist city’s beautiful gardens and traditional waterside architecture.
Blue is the main color of Suzhou’s taxis and it’s hard to distinguish which company a taxi belongs to simply by judging their appearance.
The most common taxi models in Suzhou are Volkswagen Santana 2000, Santana 3000, Santana 4000 and Volkswagen Passat.
Legal cabs have a taxi roof light. Around the driver’s seat is a transparent organic glass shield that protects the driver from robbery. A meter and an illuminated vacancy disk on the dashboard are also necessities for a cab. Without all these necessities, the taxi is probably unlicensed and you should avoid it, even if the driver solicits you. You have no rights if injured in an unlicensed taxi.
When a taxi is available the vacancy disk is upright and shows two illuminated Chinese characters “空车” .
Major Taxi Companies in Suzhou
Normally there is one taxi reservation hotline in Suzhou 6777-6777, and after booking passengers will be assigned the nearest taxi. However, only one phone operator can provide the English service. Additionally, each taxi company has their own booking hotline to satisfy passengers’ particular needs.
Information about Suzhou taxi companies
Taking a taxi is much more expensive than taking a bus, although it is far from a luxury and taxis are a convenient way to travel in a city that may be difficult to navigate on your own.
Daytime Operation (5am-10pm)
The minimum fare is 11 yuan (including 1 yuan of fuel surcharges) and covers the first 3 kilometers. Additional kilometers are charged at 2 yuan for A-type cars like the Volkswagen Passat, while 1.8 yuan is charged for every additional kilometer in B-type cars like the Volkswagen Santana 2000, Santana 3000 and Santana 4000.
After 5 kilometers, there is a 50% increase in the per-kilometer cost and A-type cars charge 3 yuan and B-type cars charge 2.7 yuan for every additional kilometer.
Being stuck in a traffic jam also bumps up the bill, and 5 minutes of waiting time costs the same as a kilometer.
Night Operation (10pm-5am)
Starting from 10pm to 5am, all taxis charge 20% extra, while the minimum fare remains 11 yuan for the first 3 kilometers.
The extra charge means 2.4 yuan is charged for every additional kilometer for A-type cars, and 2.16 yuan is charged for every additional kilometer for B-type cars during night operation.
Electric Scheduled Taxi
Since August 1 Suzhou has launched 300 new black taxies for electric scheduling only. These taxies only carry passengers through scheduling platform or at designated parking points. The minimum fare is 15 yuan and covers the first 3 kilometers. Additional kilometers are charged at 3 yuan.
Lost & Found
Always get a receipt from the taxi driver at the end of the ride. Those who forget their belongings in the taxi can call the Lost & Found hotline: 12345 with English service.
Taxis may be scarce during rush hours and on rainy days, while the 6777-6777 reservation hotline will be too busy to meet the customer demand. In this case it’s best to wait at hotspots like restaurants and bus stops for taxis.
Although some Suzhou taxi drivers have been trained by their companies on how to communicate with foreigners in English, most are still not fluent enough.
So if possible choose a taxi with a 4-Star driver, and have a copy of the address of your destination in Chinese. All hotspots and travel destinations in Suzhou are listed below.
Jumping into the car as other passengers get out is the quickest way to secure a taxi, and it’s better get into the taxi first before showing your destination, because sometimes cabbies will refuse to transport expats if they cannot understand the final destination.
Always hail legal taxis in Suzhou, because there are some private cars offering transport services at unreasonable price.
There is no need to pay a tip in Suzhou for taxi services.
The English service is only available through the reservation hotline 6777-6777.
Always remember to keep the receipt, not only for Lost & Found, but also for possible disputes.
“Juzai” (拒载) is not a technical term, but the Chinese phrase is only used in the taxi industry. It means cabbies refuse to take passengers to the requested destination. In Suzhou, taxi drivers are not allowed to do so for any reason, once the passenger is in the car. Although “juzai” rarely happens nowadays, it is good to know about this.
All the city’s taxis are compatible with the Suzhou Public Transportation Card (苏州通). If a driver refuses to accept the card, you have the right to decline payment.