Taxi passengers face HK$2 rise in flag-fall fee
The transport bureau has proposed a HK$2 rise in the flag fall of urban taxis to cover higher operating costs, less than a year after the last increase came into effect.
The Transport and Housing Bureau has also suggested a HK$2.50 flag-fall rise for taxis in the New Territories and HK$2 for Lantau.
The rise was submitted yesterday to the Legislative Council for discussion.
If eventually endorsed by the Executive Council, it will mean the price of the first 2 kilometres of any trip would be HK$22 in urban areas, HK$19 in the New Territories and HK$17 on Lantau.
The bureau has not proposed an increase in incremental charges - those applied for every 200 metres after the first 2 kilometres - because taxi groups did not ask for one. The bureau has also not requested a fuel surcharge, despite calls from some taxi associations and a lawmaker.
The administration said that 'introducing a fuel surcharge does not necessarily increase the actual income of drivers' and the surcharge might cause confusion and disputes between passengers and drivers.
The previous fare increase was last July, when the flag fall for all taxis rose HK$2 and higher incremental charges were applied. The new proposal was prompted by rising operating costs caused by a 12 per cent surge in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas from HK$4.71 per litre on average last year to HK$5.29 this month.
Brandon Tong Yeuk-fung, president of the Hong Kong Taxi and Public Light Bus Association, welcomed the proposal because it would help ease the burden on taxi drivers.
'I don't think passengers would be scared away because this is only a one-off increase, rather than an increase in the incremental charges. I hope the public understand,' he said.
Average net incomes for taxi drivers in various districts in the first four months of this year have dropped by between 3 per cent and 7.3 per cent from the second-half of last year, according to government figures.
Tong admitted that drivers were divided on the idea of a fuel surcharge, with some saying it might put passengers off taking a cab.
But Legislative Council transport panel chairman Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said the government should introduce fuel surcharges for taxis.
'A higher flag-fall charge alone cannot solve the problem. And once it's increased, it will be difficult to reduce it,' Cheng said. 'It is clear that the higher operating costs are due to higher fuel costs. The fuel surcharges can be applied to flights. Why can't they be applied to taxis?'
The proposal will be discussed by a transport panel in Legco on Friday.
The number of urban taxi groups that applied for a fare increase in March - nine months after the last rise - citing fuel and maintenance costs