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Expats: Words fail in buses, taxi cabs

2009. 8 December

by Liang Yiwen
( Expats are feeling a bit language-challenged in Shanghai's taxis, buses and shopping venues, according to a report released yesterday.

More than 200 foreigners living in the Pudong New Area and Changning District's Hongqiao area were interviewed by two students and a teacher at Shanghai International Studies University
about their degree of satisfaction with local services.

About 49 percent said they were dissatisfied with cabs because few drivers can speak English. For the same reason, 34 percent said they weren't happy with buses.

"Many foreigners avoid taking buses alone," said Luo Xuemei, a professor of the school's International Finance and Trade Department.

She added: "They have to use tourist manuals or call others to tell the taxi driver about where they want to go."

Complaints about taxis have regularly topped city surveys of expat grievances. Previous reports revealed a great number of complaints about overcharges due to deliberate detours and refusals to accept short rides.

"Shanghai needs to improve its English service in the public transport network before the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai next year to exempt expats of the worries of communications," Luo said.

About 31 percent of the expats also expressed dissatisfaction with Shanghai shopping.

"Though many big shopping malls have English signs and service centers, individual sales worker's English is always too poor to meet the needs of expats," Luo said.

Also in the survey, about 15 percent said they are dissatisfied with the English service in medical institutions.

"A high-level medical service is indispensable to maintain foreign professionals," Luo said.