Engine-off rule will take toll on men and cars, drivers say

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 April, 2010, 12:00am

Taxi drivers say the planned rule on idling engines will increase wear and tear on their cars and themselves.

Turning the engines on and off more frequently will cause them to break down more often, while drivers will be put under stress by worrying about when they have to switch off and by sitting in hot cabs with no air conditioning, they say.

'I will feel stressed,' Chan Kan-kong, a driver for 10 years, said. 'I will have to count the number of taxis ahead. Am I the fifth in the taxi lane? It is very troublesome. Also, I will have to look at my watch all the time. Have three minutes passed?'

He said turning the engine off also turned off the air conditioning.

'During the hot summer my health will be at risk when I stay inside a vehicle without air conditioning. I will have to open the window but the polluted air is everywhere on the roadside.'

Fellow driver Lee Wing-chor agreed.

'I don't understand why it is being imposed on us,' he said. 'Turning on and off the engine all the time increases the risk of it breaking down. I will have to pay extra maintenance costs. It is not reasonable.'

He said counting the number of taxis ahead in a rank to decide whether he had to switch off would cause 'too much pressure' and the lack of air conditioning would bring complaints from passengers.

'Passengers expect to enjoy air conditioning. They will leave my taxi if it is too hot. I estimate my business will be cut by half,' he said.

Driver Kwong Chung-leung said the three-minute grace period before an engine had to be turned off was too short.

'Three minutes pass quickly. It is hard for me to check the time,' he said.