Taxi passengers will pay HK$2 more on flag fall and an extra 10 cents every 200 metres from December after the government approved an application to raise fares yesterday.
Passengers using urban taxis will pay a flag fall charge of HK$22 and HK$1.60 every 200 metres under the new fare table. The new flag-fall charge for New Territories taxis will be HK$18.50, and for Lantau taxis HK$17. They will charge HK$1.40 every 200 metres after the first two kilometres.
A spokesman for the Transport and Housing Bureau said the government had taken into consideration changes in revenue and operating costs for taxi operators, public acceptability and fare differences between cabs and other transport in approving the application.
"Because of an increase in operating costs [for taxi drivers] since the last fare increase in July 2011, the increase in gross operating revenue of the vast majority of frontline drivers has been more than offset by a rise in operating costs and inflation," he said.
"And in view of the upward trend of inflation, the operating costs of the taxi trade should continue to rise in 2013 and 2014."
The spokesman said the average fare increase was between 7.11 and 9.04 per cent, lower than the forecast rise of 10 per cent since the last fare increase in July 2011.
"The government is mindful that the fare increase will bring extra transport expenses to passengers," he said.
Wong Wing-chung of the Northwest Area Taxi Drivers and Operators Association said he welcomed the approval, although it was "two years late".
In March last year, 15 urban taxi groups applied for fare rises but were turned down.
"The price level for everyday items has increased a lot in the past year. If we maintain the same fares, we can't support our families," Wong said.
He did not think the increase would cut passenger numbers.
"Every time we apply for an increase, people threaten us that no one will be taking a cab at that fare," he said. "But taxis are not buses; they're, for people who need them and can afford them. History proves that a fare increase has little impact on passenger numbers."
But Lai Ming-hung of the Taxi and Public Light Bus Concern Group said he expected drivers would have 10 per cent fewer passengers at the beginning, cutting earnings by about HK$100 a day.
He added that HK$2 was not a large amount and should be affordable for the public.
Lai expressed the hope that taxi owners would not raise their rents immediately after the new fares took effect.