Avoid Taxi with BX in Plate Number

One little tip to share about Shanghai taxi: try not take any taxi with BX in the car plate.

Any car in Shanghai has a car plate, like this:


The first Chinese character 沪 means Shanghai.

There are special coding standard for taxi in Shanghai.

For the third character – the one after the little dot – the following characters were assigned to taxi:







That means, if there is a car without these characters on plate, and pretend to be a taxi, you will know it.

Among all these plate, X is very special.

X plate taxi are private taxi plate, while all the others are company owned taxi. A company owned taxi means the taxi is owned by a taxi company, and the driver is hired by the company to drive the car, and the driver needs to pay about 450 – 500 base fee to the company everyday. Their earning needs to pay this fee, gas fee, and all kinds of maintaince fee for the car before he can get a profit.

X plate taxi, or private taxi, is owned by individual persons, and they don’t belong to a company, so they don’t need to pay anything. Recently, they are required to join a company setup just for the management propose of private taxis. The management is as low as 150 RMB per month, v.s. 15,000 for other taxi drivers.

So they owner of X plate taxi earns huge profit.

However, their service quality is the worst among all the taxis, just because they are not afraid of any customer complain at all – there is no company responsible for it. Their service standard is also pretty low. The rule of thumb (although with a little bit discrimination) is, if you feel very bad about a taxi driver, chances are, it is a X plate taxi.

In Shanghai, there are 40,000 taxis, and among them, 300 are with plate 沪AX, and 3000 are with plate 沪BX. So for your safety, avoid BX taxi as much as possible.

Disclaimer: This article is based on my personal experience of BX taxis, and feedback from Internet. It is of cause more generalized, and some BX taxi may provide good service, I justified and thought it is still the right thing to do to put a caution here, to avoid unhappy experience for my readers. I hope the BX taxi can find a way to improve their reputation, just as Dazhong taxi has gained the reputation of the best taxi in Shanghai, even though not everyone of the drivers are very good. That is the power of brand, isn’t it?

13 thoughts on “Avoid Taxi with BX in Plate Number

  1. Hi from the US

    You mentioned in a previous blog that the bridge was open between Shanghai and Ningbo. I have a partner going to Ningbo next week and she was told the bridge will not open until the end of April and will have to drive the long way

  2. “quote”Hi from the US

    You mentioned in a previous blog that the bridge was open between Shanghai and Ningbo. I have a partner going to Ningbo next week and she was told the bridge will not open until the end of April and will have to drive the long way”quote”

    correct, the bridge has not been officially opened as yet. there has been a special private drive over of the bridge for special invitees, however it is not open to public vehicles yet. therefore your friend will need to take the longer expressway route, or the G320 & G329. as a person who lives in Ningbo, i am somewhat happy that the bridge will open and make the somewhat long tedious journey shorter, but i am also dismayed that once again motorbikes will be banned from using the bridge as they are from using china’s expressways. i have travelled by motorbike from ningbo – shanghai so many times and while i often take many alternative routes, to make my journeys more interesting, the suicidal demeanour of many chinese people whether they be pedistrians or vehicle drivers/riders pushes my patience no end at times.

    the sooner the traffic section of the PSB actually does “its” job and enforces the letter of the law the bloody better!!! but i don’t hold out much hope that, such a dichotomy of priority shifts will ever happen any time soon!!!

    -every day in china is a challenge. :P

  3. Actually AX and BX are simillar. If you see the taxi is not a VW Santana, chances are it’s AX or BX taxi. Because only the private owner has the option to choose a difference brand car.

    Also, because of the huge profit of those plates, those plates are worth somewhat 500,000-1,000,000 in black market.

  4. I often take taxis when I go out, and everytime when the driver ask me if I could share the taxi with other people,I always say yes. Because I understand the driver very much and want them to make more money. and the other people may have something urgent. He or she need the taxi very much. So I always allow the driver’s requst. But last time when I took a taxi to watch a firework show with my boyfriend on the night of Lantern Festival, he refused the driverr’s require only if he could lower the price . This made the driver a little bit angry and let us got off the taxi to find anthor one. My boy friend aslo very angry, he said that if the driver would’t drive us he would complaint him. At last, we won. My boyfriend also told me that pingche (the driver make two gests to share one taxi) is ont allowed by provisons. But in my opinion, though pingche is not allowed, it is understandable for the driver to do this, but the river should lower the price.What’s your idea?

  5. I have been working in shanghai for one year more now,and I told by my friends that I should avoid taxi with red color.I don’t know why,and I think it is true.

  6. Trying to grab a taxi in the busy street or bad weather is a kind a competion for me.

    In the situation been mentioned, I really have no choice to give up BX and keep waiting AX.

    I just felt happy when I jumped in the car. But good to know the differnece:)

  7. Hi! I’m an “elderly lady”in Rovaniemi/Finland/ Lapland/ studying Social Work in Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences…In Autumn 2006 I spent 3 months in Shanghai making an international student exchange and again in spring 2007 spent 3 months in Beihai doing a research (on migrant workers’ reasons to leave home and go to work in Storaenso Guangxi and about their socia security…haven’t got a prober name yet!) for my Final Theses. Took a while to start writing it though, but am working on it now. I found your very well written and informing writing about Hukou system posted at June 10, 2006. I’m asking for your permission to use it as a source in my final paper?

    Have been reading your blog every now and then! So good! I just loved Shanghai, felt so safe there (but was robbed in Beihai!!!), had no problems with the taxis, learned to know really nice people…. Hope to get back there soon!!!

    Please, kindly reply to my e-mail, thanking you in advance! (my blog’s only in Finnish but have some photos taken in China, Switzerland and here…)

  8. @richard, I don’t have more information about your background, like nationality, where you are, what type of taxi company you want to join. But my first reaction to the question is, it is not easy to do it with your own car. They have the BX type of plate, but it is highly restricted. It seems the only way to get into the taxi business is to get hired by a big company and drive their cars, and of cause, you may need to pay most of what you get back to the companies. This is what I heard.

  9. I completely agree with you, but I would say one thing in favour of the self-employed taxi drivers: they generally have a much better local knowledge than drivers for the big chain taxis.

    I think this is probably because they tend to stick to their own local area more. Maybe this is through their own choice. Or maybe it’s because most customers try to pick chain taxis, so they don’t get longer rides which would take them across town to an unfamiliar area. Either way, I’ve noticed they are much more likely to know shortcuts, etc, which maybe a Dazhong driver won’t.

    But you’re right, nearly all my (relatively few) bad experiences with Shanghai taxis have been with these self-employed guys, and I generally avoid them.

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