On the first day of the trial scheme, taxi drivers say they may lodge complaints with the ombudsman New Territories taxi drivers unhappy at a decision to cut fares by up to 25 per cent are threatening to lodge complaints with the ombudsman, saying the first day of the experiment had proved their incomes would be seriously affected. The trial scheme started yesterday and will be evaluated by the government after one month. The North West Area Taxi Drivers and Operators Association, one of the biggest taxi groups in the New Territories with 280 members, is firmly against the cut. Its chairman, Sunny Wong Wing-chung, said he would file a complaint with the ombudsman because the government had failed to consult drivers about the fare cut. 'Drivers are the ones who suffer from the scheme. But the government has only consulted taxi owners and agents, who have no front-line experience,' he said. Mr Wong said the Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works, Sarah Liao Sau-tung, was too 'high-minded' and 'theoretical' in assuming the cut could stimulate demand. He said summer was the high season for taxis and any rise in passenger numbers this month would not be due to cheaper fares. He said takings were down by about 10 per cent yesterday. Stephen Ip Man-kwong, assistant commissioner of the Transport Department, said the fare cut in the New Territories was purely a 'commercial decision'. Taxi driver Kong Kam-chuen, 49, said the fare cut had done little to stimulate demand as most passengers could only afford short rides because of the poor economy. Last Monday, Dr Liao insisted the trade was behind the fare-cut scheme after they consulted 10 taxi associations. On Friday, more than 1,000 drivers and 400 taxis staged a rally at a parking lot outside Sha Tin racecourse in protest. They went on a slow-drive parade to Hong Kong International Airport and Lok Ma Chau. Transport officials met the drivers to discuss the scheme but insisted the fare cut would go ahead. On Saturday the government agreed to shorten the trial period from six months to one month. While many drivers oppose the fare cut, the decision seemed to be welcomed by the public yesterday. Housewife Lung Lai-yin, 40, said she would be more willing to take taxis now. However, she was unsure if she would benefit because she only made short trips. Wong Wan-mui, 34, said she would now think about taking a taxi if she was in a hurry. 'I welcome the cut. It's a reasonable decision. But I would still think twice because it's good to save up more money these days.' Urban taxi associations said protests held in the New Territories were unlikely to be repeated by urban drivers, even if the government decided to cut taxi fares on the island and in Kowloon. They said they were much happier with the government's handling of the situation because the views of everyone in the industry had been taken into account through a comprehensive survey now being completed. Kwok Chi-pui, chairman of the Urban Taxi Drivers Association Joint Committee, which has about 6,000 members, said he supported lower fares, but only temporarily as a way to combat illegal discounting among a small number of drivers. 'We don't really like it, but the scheme has its use in combating illegal discounting. The government doesn't care about illegal discounts, they refuse to prosecute, so we have to do more on our own to become more competitive,' he said. Cheung Yiu-fung, a spokesman for the Traffic Services Employees Association, a union of about 1,200 drivers, said: 'Even if the number of passengers rises, there is no guarantee it is enough to maintain drivers' incomes or even allow them to pay rents. 'We don't think discounts will lure passengers away from cheaper public transport, like buses, and it won't stop illegal discounting.'