Transport bosses set to offer taxi deal

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 December, 2008, 12:00am

Green cabbies to get HK$1 rise, says source

Green taxis should be allowed to raise their flag-fall by just HK$1, not HK$2 as the trade has proposed, the Transport Advisory Committee has recommended to the Executive Council, according to a source.

The transport advisers expected little opposition - despite many slow-drive protests, including a citywide blockade this year - because the Transport Department had reached a consensus with the trade, the source said.

'Although the trade submitted only one proposal, there were other opinions,' the source said yesterday.

The committee 'is confident its suggestion will be accepted by all sectors. It is not starting a fight.'

Sixteen official taxi associations that meet the department regularly jointly submitted a proposal in August to raise the flag-fall price from HK$13.50 to HK$15.50.

They also suggested increasing each jump on the meter by 10 cents to HK$1.30 for distances below 8km, but reduce that from HK$1.20 to HK$1 thereafter.

One representative said the taxi drivers had been telling officials since December 1 that they would accept a flag-fall increase of HK$1 instead of HK$2.

'We didn't submit a different proposal because we feared it would further delay our application,' said Leong Yee-weng, chairman of the New Territories Taxi Drivers' Rights Alliance.

'But basically we all agree that the increase should be lessened in the face of this economic environment.'

Green-taxi groups had been unhappy with a new system that cut fares on longer journeys but raised them for shorter ones, because the cheaper long-haul journeys would harm their profits.

Their anger was fuelled by the fact the system was introduced for urban taxis first, giving them what was seen as an unfair advantage. Some green-taxi drivers - mainly those who line up at the airport and control points - protested during the final stage of the assessment, saying the plan would harm their income.

Committee chairwoman Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah said it took into account not only the industry's operating costs and the economic climate but also affordability by the public.

Ms Cheng recommended that the Transport Department include more groups in its regular meetings to improve communication.

In yesterday's meeting, the committee also backed a government decision to review car flow and tolls at the three cross-harbour tunnels - a study that some lawmakers had called a waste of time and resources.

Ms Cheng said the study would provide a thorough picture of travelling patterns and traffic projections up to 2040, which should be useful in setting policies.