Hong Kong government has no plans to tighten application criteria for hire cars

Transport minister says applicants must already fulfil certain criteria like a car can only be booked in advance and cannot be hailed on the street

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 9:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 9:53pm

There are no plans to tighten application criteria for hire car permits for luxury vehicles, the government has announced.

The Transport Department simplified application procedures in February, sparking concern among taxi groups that a growing number of hire cars on the streets would hurt their business.

Under current laws, private car owners wanting to carry passengers for reward must apply for a hire car permit. As of March, 274 permits had been issued to 36 operators for limousine services.

Under the rules, the vehicle must be at most six years old with a pre-tax value of HK$300,000 or more.

The Legislative Council’s transport representative, Frankie Yick Chi-ming, asked the government whether it would tighten application criteria by stipulating for example that only newer cars should be permitted.

Transport minister Anthony Cheung Bing-leung rejected the call, saying a range of factors were considered for each application, such as whether the applicant was able to “demonstrate reasonably” that the hire car service was required in a particular area.

“Hire cars can provide relatively high-end personalised point-to-point services … [and] do not come under the category of public transport … Passengers can only book the service in advance and cannot hail any hire [car] in the streets,” Cheung said in a written reply.

“The design and quality of private cars providing limousine services are generally better than other vehicles providing point-to-point personalised services,” he said.

In February, the Transport Department began providing pre-application assessments for hire car permit applicants.

This allows anyone who wishes to join the trade to find out the chance of receiving approval before investing in a vehicle – a requirement which has in the past turned off interested parties.