image image

Hong Kong taxis

Why Uber is not the solution to Hong Kong’s taxi woes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 9:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 9:17pm

I refer to the letter from Charlotte Kwan (“Make Uber legal in Hong Kong, the people need an alternative to taxis”, July 20).

I do not agree with Ms Kwan’s views, that our government should support ride-hailing services like Uber because locals and tourists can then benefit from ride-sharing as a personalised service.

The government should consider the livelihoods of existing taxi drivers and taxi licence owners. As it is, there is great competition in the taxi sector. If ride-hailing and sharing were legalised, everyone could use their cars to earn money from passengers, further affecting the earnings of taxi drivers. This “free market” would also lead to a fall in the market value of a taxi licence.

Besides, passenger safety is also a concern. There have been reports – from mainland China and several Western countries, including the US and UK – of crimes committed by drivers offering ride-hailing services. In May, a flight attendant was raped and murdered after hailing a private car from the Didi-Chuxing ride-sharing platform, in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou.

Such incidents show that passengers and ride-sharing companies don’t always have comprehensive and exhaustive background information on drivers. At the same time, passengers may not be adequately covered by insurance in case of an accident. Lastly, more ride-hailing vehicles on the road would worsen traffic jams.

Watch: Taxi driver delivers joy to Hongkongers with a guestbook

Peer-to-peer services and the sharing economy are signs of the future, and services like Uber definitely offer convenience to tech-savvy passengers. However, the inherent problems must also be taken into consideration.

As for the taxi sector, it is important that drivers reflect on their image and service quality, if they want their business to thrive. Impolite drivers, unclean vehicles, overcharging and taking longer routes on purpose will only turn passengers off and make them clamour for alternatives such as Uber.

Jason Ng, Tseung Kwan O