Complaints show need for taxi sector to face real competition in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 11:40pm

The Executive Council has approved the application for an increase in taxi fares (“Hong Kong taxi fares set to rise after HK$2 increase in flag fall approved”, February 7).

Transport officials claim that all the relevant factors were considered before the fare increase was approved, including the incomes of taxi drivers and the likelihood of Hong Kong citizens accepting this.

However, there is no evidence Hongkongers do back this and I do not believe the fare hike should have been approved.

According to information provided by the Transport Complaints Unit, complaints against taxi drivers increased annually between 2003 and 2015, and peaked that year.

Some of the most common complaints from the public are refusing hire and overcharging. I am sure most passengers have experienced these problems, and until they are resolved I cannot see a justification for the fare rise.

Indeed there has been a lack of public consultation before going ahead with this decision. Citizens have not been asked to comment on the poor services and I am sure that if they had been asked, they would have said the increase could not be justified.

I think the poor quality of service is due to the lack of competition.

There was no competition at all until car-hailing app Uber launched its business in Hong Kong. The government should allow more competition so that taxi drivers here are forced to raise their game.

Another reason I am against the fare rise is because I believe it will only benefit taxi operators, not the drivers.

Every time the flag fall goes up, cabbies’ wages remain unchanged. That is because, despite what they might say, licence owners raise the rent for drivers and so are the sole beneficiaries of the higher fare.

Because the government has not issued any licences since 1994, their value keeps increasing.

Licences for urban taxis are now worth nearly HK$6.5 million. This makes the licence owners very wealthy and now they will earn an even higher income. So neither passengers nor drivers will gain anything from Exco’s decision.

As I say, the cabbies will be forced to pay higher rents and so they will not enjoy a higher standard of living.

Raymond Chan Mang-cheong, Ngau Tau Kok