Abundance of taxi drivers in Taiwan

So how come there are so many taxi drivers in Taiwan? Can anyone just get a taxi license as long as they have a car and a IQ of over 90?

Some of their driving is scary… rode in one and all I can describe the driving is… If any of you played Grand Theft Auto IV, you get into a taxi they would drive normally (which is slow), but when you press space (for the PC version) the driver ignores traffic rule and drives like you normally would in the game (ie. insane)… that’s how that driver drove like. Almost ran into another one on my bicycle because it was running a red light, and he still crossed as though he had the right of way… he must be colorblind.

[quote=“Taiwan Luthiers”]So how come there are so many taxi drivers in Taiwan? Can anyone just get a taxi license as long as they have a car and a IQ of over 90?
[/quote]

A car is needed, but where did you pull that second, crazy requirement out of?? :smiley:

Apparently it used to be an accepted method of rehab to put ex-cons into taxis after they’d served their time. After all, it’s a job that requires no particular regard for public safety, social niceties, or The Rules, right?

Not sure if this is still true, but certainly those of them who haven’t yet been in jail really ought to be. I’ve met a few considerate, skilled taxi drivers, but they’re maybe 2% of the total.

Reminds me of a conversation I had some years ago with a secretary in one of the OEM companies we work with. She mentioned that her manager would be giving us a lift later. “He’s a very good driver”, she said. “He can drive very fast”.

A lot of taxi drivers do it as a side job; there was a new report some time back on a doctor who practiced medicine during the day and drove a cab at night to earn more. I would never let someone so sleep deprived put a needle anywhere near me, though.

It’s an easy profession to get into and can conceivably earn you a ton of money. Note that the cab drivers are all concentrated in Taipei. Here in Taoyuan County I see maybe two taxis a day, if even that. But Taipeiers are more likely to have money and less likely to have a car of their own (or perhaps choose not to use it, can’t blame them!) so taxi drivers see it as a land of opportunity. I’m not complaining – it makes things really convenient!

On a side note, I’ve taken two taxis over five years with drivers whose English skills totally blew me away. One was when I got in a taxi in Xindian and told the driver (in Chinese of course) exactly where I wanted to go and to stop between two buildings, to which he says – in perfect English – “I see you’re no stranger to Xindian!” It was a super short ride so I didn’t get a chance to ask him why he was so damn good.

The other was a taxi driver in Taipei who started telling me about Soong May-ling (Madame Chiang Kai-shek) and what she did for ROC diplomacy… also in English. I asked him where he learned to speak it and he said … drum roll please… high school. In 1975. He hasn’t had a day of class since then.

So we can criticize taxi drivers all we want, and god knows some of them deserve it, but there are plenty who are professional, extremely articulate (in Chinese… or even English), and great at conversation. My favorite thing about taxis is chatting with the drivers.

Perfectly true, but some of the “friendly” guys give me the creeps. You get the impression that if you put a word wrong (like mentioning “KMT”) they’ll shout some Taiwanese equivalent of “Allahu akhbar!” and drive the taxi into the nearest building. I did once meet an interesting guy who used to run a trading company, got bored with it all, painted his Mercedes yellow, and now drives it around as a taxi (yes, the taxi I was in). Another guy had really excellent driving skills, and I asked him (without mentioning driving) if he had ever lived abroad. He didn’t speak English, but nobody who took the Taiwanese test could drive like that. “Oh no”, he said with a deep sigh, and presumably understanding my meaning. “I used to be a driving instructor”. We had a pretty good chat about the vagaries of Taiwan’s motor vehicle culture, with which he had become somewhat disillusioned.

So that’s two interesting people in 12 years. Although I am a curmudgeonly old git, so I prefer to just sit there and stare into the distance rather than discuss the fact that I can speak crappy Chinese, or that “America very good”. I might have missed a lot of scintillating conversations that way. :idunno:

Grand Taiwan Auto

Heh, yeah the prerequisite for most of the interesting conversations is speaking Chinese. I’ve had my fair share of “those damn KMT” and even “that damn A-bian” back in the day; one was more interested in cursing Ma than driving and so I got out after only half way for fear of my personal safety. But there have been as many cool guys as crazies.

Case in point: blinged out rockstar taxi