Consultation ignores problems of taxi industry, lawmaker says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2007, 12:00am

The recently published consultation paper on taxi services has failed to address the problems facing the industry, legislator Miriam Lau Kin-yee said yesterday.

In yesterday's RTHK City Forum, Ms Lau, who represents the transport constituency, said the paper - which made reference to taxis in other cities - helped little in pursuing a solution because the market dynamics of each city was different.

The Transport Advisory Committee last week issued a consultation paper with an aim of broadening business opportunities for the industry and improving the quality of the taxi services. The paper referred to business models in Singapore, Tokyo, London and New York.

While it did not suggest any solutions, it summarised the situation of the local taxi industry and the market mechanisms of the four other cities. It noted some cities allowed taxi operators to determine rates and cab-sharing services at fixed fares, subject to time and location.

Ms Lau said allowing taxi operators to determine fares should not be applied in Hong Kong because a majority of taxi operations were owned by individuals. Such a move could result in chaos, she said.

'Hong Kong has a very simple and reasonable pricing model. If you put a number of surcharges on top of the existing mechanism, the service quality will inevitably be affected,' she said.

But she agreed that the pricing model for long-haul rides could be reviewed to increase competition.

Jim Chi-yung, chairman of the committee's public transport services sub-committee, said looking at examples from other cities could offer ideas. For example, the industry could expand its business scope by offering premium taxi services and types of vehicles to cater for different needs of passengers.

A driver at the forum, surnamed Chan, said the government should abandon the division of urban, suburban and Lantau taxis to avoid confusion, and the industry could use a tracking system to manage taxi fleets.