New fare structure for green taxis satisfies drivers - for now

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 January, 2009, 12:00am

Passengers of green taxis will have to pay up to HK$4 more for short trips but less for longer trips starting on Friday, after the Executive Council yesterday approved fare changes that will bring their charges in line with those of red taxis.

The starting fare will be raised by HK$1 to HK$14.50, instead of by HK$2 as originally proposed, in light of the economic downturn and as advised by the Transport Advisory Committee.

The changes will mean New Territories taxis will once again be cheaper than red taxis for long-haul journeys, as it was before a controversial revision at the end of November to fares for urban taxis.

Saying their livelihood had been compromised, green-taxi drivers - along with red-taxi drivers who were unhappy with the fare changes - mobilised a blockade early last month that paralysed traffic in Happy Valley and at the airport for hours.

The latest revision will mollify them - for now.

Green-taxi driver Wong Wing-chung, one of the organisers of the blockade, said drivers would adopt a 'wait and see' attitude on whether further changes were necessary.

If the fare cut for long-haul trips led to a drop in earnings, drivers might apply for a fare rise, he said.

'We don't have any plan [for further protests] at the moment,' said Mr Wong. 'No action will be taken before the Lunar New Year, as our drivers need to work. We will take the chance to see how the new fare system works out.'

From Friday, each jump of the meter in green taxis will increase from HK$1.20 to HK$1.30 for the first 8km, but will drop from HK$1.20 to HK$1 thereafter.

This means a trip that now costs HK$73.50 or more will become cheaper.

All 16 green-taxi associations had to agree on a fare change before the proposal could be accepted by the Transport Department.