'I was earning $200 for a shift - now it's even less'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 June, 2003, 12:00am

Association chairman fails to draw more passengers in half-day trial

A New Territories taxi driver said he was unhappy with the concession scheme implemented yesterday after his earnings in one morning shift fell by 10 per cent.

Sunny Wong Wing-chung, 52, chairman of the North West Area Taxi Drivers and Operators Association, said his half-day experiment proved that the fare cut had failed to draw more passengers, as it was intended to do.

Mr Wong's association was not among the 10 drivers' groups that sought to cut fares. Still, he had to follow suit.

Yesterday, Mr Wong said he would have pocketed $311.50 from his 12 passengers between 8am to 2pm. But the fare concession slashed this by $31.30. Deducting the $200 overhead cost for rental and petrol, he took home less than $100.

He said the number of passengers yesterday was just the same as on other 'quiet Sundays' despite the concession.

Under the new structure, the flag fall remains at $12.50. Subsequent fare jumps will drop from $1.20 to 90 cents after the seventh jump.

Mr Wong said he feared that his daily income for 10 hours' work on a weekday could drop from $400 to less than $360 - or a measly $160 after deducting the costs for rental and petrol.

'My pay was already as low as $200 before the fare cut was introduced - now it is even less,' he said.

He started his day yesterday at 8am, taking a passenger from Fairview Gardens in Yuen Long to the town centre. 'The meter read $44.90, but with the concession, it dropped to $38.90,' Mr Wong said.

He then waited for an hour before he could find a new passenger.

From 9.30am, Mr Wong served four groups of passengers who requested short-distance rides within the Yuen Long town centre. The passengers did not benefit from the fare cut as the distances were relatively short.

At 11.20am, a passenger in the town centre asked Mr Wong for a ride to Tin Shui Wai. The fare was $35.30 - but again the concession cut his take to $31.70.

With no prospect of a passenger in Tin Shui Wai, Mr Wong drove back to Yuen Long town centre and did three more rounds of businesses. The fares he got ranged from $16.10 to $18.50.

The biggest fare concession was for a trip from Yuen Long to Tsuen Wan, which brought Mr Wong $85.70. Without the fare cut, that would have been $107.30.