Taxi drivers face higher penalties
HIGHER penalties and stricter licence quota measures have been proposed for the taxi industry, the Transport Advisory Committee (TAC) revealed yesterday.
The TAC yesterday discussed a final report of the Working Group on Taxi Policy Review which aims to curb speculation on licence premiums and to improve taxi service.
Committee chairman Leung Chi-keung said members suggested doubling the maximum penalties for most taxi offences from $5,000 to $10,000. Drivers committing the more widespread offences such as refusing fares and soliciting might also face fixed penalties.
They also recommended that there should not be a pre-set quota of licences to be issued, so that speculators could not price a licence accordingly.
The TAC suggested restricting each bidder to one licence and allowing the transfer of licences only after the first year of issuance.
The proposals were warmly received by taxi drivers but the committee's decision to leave out the setting up of cross-harbour taxi-stands angered them.
Chairman of the Urban Taxi Drivers' Association Joint Committee, Tony Chan Kam-pui, said he was disappointed that the TAC's proposal excluded a cross-harbour taxi-stand.
''Higher penalties will not deter any taxi driver from soliciting or refusing fares if a designated stand is not established. The drivers would rather run the risk of being charged than take passengers who want to cross the harbour,'' said Mr Chan.
But Mr Leung said the committee considered the setting up of the stand as premature.
''Members felt that the proposal was not in line with the principle that taxis should be available for hire to any destination within their operating area.
''They felt that the establishment of such a stand should be reconsidered in the context of a territory-wide transport service to the new airport,'' said Mr Leung.
The proposals will reach the Executive Council next month and then be scrutinised by legislators.