'Most taxi drivers' want flag-fall rise
Most taxi drivers support an increase in the flag-fall price by HK$2 to HK$20, according to a taxi owner group member. That comes only a little more than a year after the government approved a rise in short-haul journey prices.
The Transport Department says it received a proposal to raise the flag-fall from taxi company Luen Tai on April 1, but officials will only process the application if most of the 37 registered urban taxi groups agree on the increase at a meeting to be held next Wednesday.
Although only 10 groups have stated their support, Ng Kwan-sing of a taxi-owner group that backs the proposal, says he understands most of the 37 groups are inclined to support the idea, although they don't want to state their intentions yet.
A taxi drivers' group called the Urban Taxi Drivers Association Joint Committee has opposed the proposal since it was first made last month becaue it says it is worried taxi owners will use it as an excuse to raise taxi rents. However, Kwok Chi-piu, chairman of the group, which has about 10 allies among the 37 groups, says his group will support a fare rise if it is made after the first quarter next year. 'Inflation is going to get worse, and the last fare increase was not really so long ago,' he says. 'We need to ascertain carefully if the rise is really going to help raise our income.'
Ng says, however, that by the time the government assessed and approves the proposal, it will be early next year.
Transport figures show that average daily taxi trips have decreased from more than a million before the last fare rise to 954,200 in 2009.
In late 2008, the taxi flag-fall was raised from HK$16 to HK$18 for urban taxis under a regime that increased fares for short-haul trips and reduced them for long-haul journeys. Each jump on the meter for the first 9km was raised from HK$1.40 to HK$1.50 and dropped to HK$1 thereafter.
The price of a taxi licence has shot up from about HK$300,000 to more than H$4 million since the introduction of the new fare model, and taxi rents have risen.