Taxi fuel surcharge idea rejected

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 December, 2010, 12:00am

The government has refused to introduce a more flexible fuel surcharge as an alternative to a fixed taxi flag-fall fare rise of HK$2.

Operators of urban, New Territories and Lantau taxis applied for the increase in September because of a rise in operating costs, principally fuel and insurance.

Legislator Miriam Lau Kin-yee suggested introducing a fuel surcharge so that when the fuel price falls, the fee can be reduced.

She said: 'Fuel prices have been surging in recent years. How can taxi drivers have a reasonable operation? No one wants any fare rise. This fuel surcharge is fairer.'

But Rebecca Pun Ting-ting, Deputy Secretary for Transport and Housing, said it would be difficult to implement. She said: 'We all know that fuel prices change frequently. If this brought about frequent changes in the fuel surcharge, members of the public would be confused. 'At this stage we do not think we will adopt such a surcharge,' she said.

Lai Ming-hung, chairman of the Taxi and Public Light Bus Concern Group, said the industry would prefer a fuel surcharge over a fixed fare rise.

'We do not want to apply for fare rises so often. This will give a bad impression to the public,' he said. Lai said the government had once implemented a fuel surcharge in the early 1990s, but later cancelled it.

He said the government refused to introduce it again because officers thought it was troublesome to monitor the fuel prices and adjust the surcharge every month.

'The government also rejected a fuel surcharge proposal three years ago. It approved a fare rise of HK$1 instead,' he said.

The Transport Department said it would seek approval from the chief executive and Executive Council after consulting legislators on the fare rise.