Car-hailing app like Uber should be part of premium taxi service in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 July, 2016, 12:18am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 July, 2016, 10:41pm

I welcome the government’s proposal to introduce a premium taxi service in Hong Kong, to provide passengers with better options.

Taxi drivers in Hong Kong have been enjoying a monopoly for many years and there have been many instances of overcharging, rude behaviour and refusal to take passengers. There may have been cases where police have taken action against some offending drivers, but this is just a drop in the ocean as so many incidents go unreported.

Even the punishment meted out, such as a fine or suspension of licence, has had little effect on their attitude. There are no road blocks to check whether a suspended driver is still continuing to drive a taxi.

The recent threat by cabbies to block the airport is tantamount to blackmailing those people who depend on taxi services. Taxi drivers indulging in such activities should be severely punished as it will also adversely affect the tourism sector, which is already struggling.

Although the idea of the premium taxi scheme is good, it is going to add more cars on the road, causing greater traffic congestion. To resolve this problem, it would be a good idea for the government to give a licence to a car-hailing app like Uber. These operators bring in modern technology, disciplined drivers who are professionally trained, and better business practices. Also, more incentives are offered to drivers to do a good job than to local cabbies.

They also provide a very user-friendly interface with those citizens who opt to use their services. These operators can rope in existing owners of vehicles to become part of their service model. Without adding additional vehicles on the road, it would be possible to streamline the existing taxi services and provide a win-win situation for all, that is the car-hailing app, the taxi owners and the passengers.

J. Parthasarathy, Tsim Sha Tsui