Cabbies penalised for using 'green' fuel

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 12:00am

I was travelling in one of those smart new Ford liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) station-wagon taxis last week, and on complementing the driver on his 'green awareness' was amazed to be told that he felt he had been 'tricked by the authorities' into buying it.

He explained to me that when he purchased the car he was told that although it cost approximately $10,000 more to buy than a regular taxi, it would cost less to run due to the cheaper price of LPG. However, to his surprise and dismay, he found that on average it cost $50 more per day in fuel; that's $50 less in his pocket and based on a 300-day work year, that's $15,000 less in his income.

These may be rough and ready figures, but if this is the case, the introduction of LPG taxis and the return of cleaner air to Hong Kong will be severely affected by such a disincentive.

I see two solutions. Either Ford tweaks the 1,000 or so LPG taxis that are now in the SAR to increase their efficiency to get back that $50 per day and say another $10 to make up for the additional cost of the car, or the Government reduces the duties on LPG and the car to negate the disincentive.