Exco approves HK$1 taxi flagfall increase

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2008, 12:00am

Taxi passengers are closer to paying an extra HK$1 a trip after the Executive Council approved the rise yesterday in light of soaring fuel prices.

The increase will take effect on February 28 if the Legislative Council passes it next Wednesday, as expected. It would be the first of several rises and changes in the fare structure proposed by the industry to protect legitimate operators' business against rampant illicit discounting.

But discounters said they would continue the practice - including discounts on the HK$1 flagfall increase for urban and New Territories cabs.

Two proposals to reform the fare structure have already been submitted to the Transport Advisory Committee under a three-month consultation that ends on January 31.

Both favour a rise in the flagfall from HK$15 to HK$18 or HK$20 - including the HK$1 surcharge - and a reduction in each jump of the meter for long-haul trips from HK$1.40 to between HK$1 and HK$1.10.

After collecting submissions, the committee will make suggestions to the government in March, not only on the fare structure but also the entire taxi system.

The proposals are meant to counter the so-called discount taxi groups - who attract passengers, especially long-haul ones, by offering them discounts of up to 40 per cent.

Two such groups said yesterday that they would continue to offer 20 per cent discounts on trips over HK$60 and would charge only 80 cents instead of HK$1 for the surcharge.

The proposal for the $1 increase had been supported by both the Legco and the Transport Advisory Committee in earlier consultations.

The committee said the increase would help drivers, especially those who rent their cabs, as their net incomes had deteriorated amid persistent surges in fuel prices and taxi rentals.

The red cabs last increased their fares in 1998 and the green cabs in 1997.

Legco transport panel chairman Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said the panel would complete the necessary procedures quickly.