Hong Kong taxi drivers push for fare increase as costs rise
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Urban taxis are seeking a HK$2 flag-fall fare increase, as they say inflation has made it harder for them to make ends meet.
They are also hoping to increase the fare by 10 cents for every extra 200 metres. The taxi unions will meet the Transport Department this month to discuss the proposed rise.
New Territories cabbies said they would follow suit if the applications were successful.
Lai Ming-hung, of the Taxi and Public Light Bus Concern Group, said all taxi unions had basically agreed that a fare rise was needed, as operation, maintenance and insurance costs had increased 6.9 per cent for every nine kilometres they travelled.
Passengers currently pay HK$1.50 for every 200 metres after the flag fall until the chargeable amount reaches HK$72.50. While some unions are seeking to raise 10 cents for every metre for short-haul passengers, others said they want the increase applied to any distance.
Lai Hoi-ping, of Hong Kong Taxi Association, said cabbies were earning about HK$300 after costs for every 12-hour shift. "But HK$300 now is not the same as HK$300 last year," he said. "If we stick to the current fare, it would be very hard for us to make ends meet."
Rents for cabs had also increased by HK$20 every shift last year, although their fare increase attempts were not successful.
Wong Wing-chung, of the Northwest Area Taxi Drivers and Operators Association, said cabbies in the New Territories felt under pressure to raise fares, but would wait until the urban taxis had successfully done that.
"We need to keep the discrepancies in fares," he said. "I don't understand how the lawmakers turn down our applications every time. They had a pay rise. Our living costs were increasing as well."
In March last year, 15 urban taxi groups - drivers and owners - submitted an application for fare rises to the Transport Department, just nine months after the last increase in July 2010, when the flag fall rose from HK$18 to HK$20. The application was turned down by Legco.