Business as usual after HK$2 rise in taxi flag fall

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 July, 2011, 12:00am


Taxi drivers say the HK$2 increase in the flag fall rate, which came into effect yesterday, will have little impact on business because people are far more concerned about other areas of inflation.

They argue that HK$2 is not a lot compared with the increase in food prices and other products.

The flag fall for urban taxis rose from HK$18 to HK$20 yesterday. In the New Territories it went from HK$14.50 to HK$16.50 and for Lantau cabs from HK$13 to HK$15.

Drivers waiting at the Hung Hom Station taxi stand yesterday said the number of passengers was stable.

'With the general inflation everywhere, people don't care about spending one or two dollars more,' said cabbie Ho Wai-ki. He said business on Sundays was traditionally quieter as people did not need to rush to work.

Another driver, Hoon Chi-wai, agreed that business would not be affected by the fare rise. 'When people are in a hurry, they still need a taxi. We are always the most convenient mode of transport,' he said.

But another cabbie, Wong Pak-keung, was not so optimistic. He said business could fall by about 5 per cent in the short term, although it would improve in the long run. 'From my past experience, passengers need one or two months to get used to a new fare. They may feel bad paying HK$2 more now, but eventually they will accept it,' he said.

Some drivers feel they are not better off, even with the increase, as they were recently asked to pay more to rent a cab. The Association for the Rights of Taxi Drivers said cabbies were asked to pay HK$10 to 30 more a shift, which may cancel out the effects of the new fare. The association estimated that some drivers might earn HK$1,000 less a month.

Passenger Vivian Chan said she would take a taxi even if it was more expensive. '[An increase of] HK$2 is very reasonable. There is inflation in every aspect of life anyway,' she said.

But Peter Kwan, a student, said he would avoid taxis for a while. 'I will try to leave home earlier to avoid traffic, and will not take a cab unless it's strictly necessary,' he said.

The new fare table has to be displayed in taxis and drivers must write down the new fares on receipts until their meters are adjusted.