New Territories drivers hit out at 100 extra permits
By JOSEPH LO
NEW Territories taxi drivers have voiced strong concern over the Government issue of 100 new taxi licences for the area.
Many believe there are already too many green taxis in the New Territories chasing too few passengers.
A visit to the Tsuen Wan bus terminus at about 3.30 pm yesterday found more than 30 taxis waiting in line to pick up fares. The stand remained virtually empty for more than an hour.
Many drivers believe 100 extra vehicles on the road would damage their livelihoods, which they say are already threatened by a marked decrease in the number of people using taxis.
Law Sai-luk, 48, has been driving in the New Territories for 10 years. He believes the Government is wrong to issue more licences.
'Business has been bad for the past two years, taxi rent went up, petrol prices went up, fares went up and, all the time, we do not have enough passengers. At this rate I won't be driving much longer,' he said.
'Look at the taxi queue, we have not budged for two hours. Sometimes we wait over three hours just to pick up one taxi fare.' New Territories taxi drivers feel they are disadvantaged in that they are restricted to serving only the New Territories and cannot venture into Kowloon and beyond.
The New Territories was well served by public transport, they said. Many believe the only way they can compete is through an easing of restrictions.
'What the Government should do is to combine Kowloon and New Territories into one service, that would make things a lot easier,' Mr Law said.
The Government has tried to curb licence speculation by limiting applications to one per person.
Another regulation prevents taxi drivers from selling new licences within one year.
Many feel these proposals are ineffective in stopping speculation, especially by the large taxi companies.
'These new licences will all be snapped up by the big companies,' said New Territories driver Hau King-cho.
'They will tell their friends to apply and then buy them back. Those of us who want to bid will have little chance. They will even approach us to apply and then pay us off if we are successful.'