Fare-rise notice vexes cabbies

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 February, 2008, 12:00am

Taxi passengers will pay HK$1 more for every trip from Thursday, but drivers must display a notice explaining the increase.

If passengers can't see the A4-sized notice issued by the Transport Department they are not obliged to pay the extra dollar.

The Road Traffic Regulations say the notice must be displayed in a prominent position or passengers will only have to pay the old fare. But some taxi drivers are not impressed, saying the notice just takes up space.

Veteran driver Mak Siu-kwong said it was not so easy to find a prominent position for the notice.

'If you put it under the meter the passengers can't see it. If you hang it in front of the windscreen it will block your vision. Why can't they make it smaller?'

The 27 urban taxi groups have been distributing the notice to members over the past two weeks. Call centres have also been spreading the message through the radio, but by yesterday there were still drivers who had not heard about the notice.

Urban Taxi Drivers Association Joint Committee chairman Kwok Chi-piu called on drivers to follow the rule. 'Some drivers said they don't care about putting up the note as it makes only one dollar's difference, but the importance of it is to avoid a possible dispute between the driver and the passengers,' he said.

The Transport Department said taxi drivers could apply to add the HK$1 flag-fall increase to their meters from Thursday.

But Mr Kwok said it could take at least six months before the 18,061 registered taxis paid to have their meters changed because more rises might be on the way.

The industry submitted four proposals to the Transport Advisory Commission before a public consultation on ways to enhance the trade's competitiveness ended on January 31. All proposals suggested higher fares for short trips - increasing the flag-fall from HK$15 to HK$18 or HK$20 - and lower fares for long-haul trips - reducing every jump of the meter from HK$1.40 to HK$1.10 or HK$1.20 for journeys more than 4km.

They argue that that would be an effective way to fight taxi gangs who offer illegal discounts.