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Hong Kong taxis

Hongkongers want e-payment in cabs, even if they have to pay the fees, study finds

Results show room for overall improvement, while passengers bemoan lack of Wi-fi or phone chargers in cars

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 3:52pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 3:58pm

More than half of Hongkongers would be willing to pay extra for electronic payment options in taxis, according to a survey by a taxi union

But current laws would now allow that, the union chief said.

The Taxi Council, which oversees 17 taxi drivers’ and owners’ groups, commissioned a survey on passenger satisfaction from August to this month and found more than half of 1,216 respondents were willing to pay service fees that come with e-payment. Less than 20 per cent said they were reluctant.

The study also revealed passengers were most dissatisfied with a lack of on-board equipment like credit card payment systems, phone chargers and Wi-fi, with a satisfaction rate of 2.84 out of five for that aspect of the cars.

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The average satisfaction rate for taxis overall was a moderate 3.5 out of five.

Council chairman Hung Wing-tat said, regardless of what consumers wanted, “current legislation is the main obstacle” to bringing in added services.

“The [Road Traffic Ordinance] stipulates drivers must charge according to meters, ruling out the possibility of adding any extra service fees,” he said. “Drivers are generally reluctant to bear the cost of offering e-payment.”

And Frankie Yick Chi-ming, legislator for the transport sector, said drivers should not have to absorb the added costs.

“Currently most electronic payment service providers charge service fees of around 3 per cent of each transaction,” Yick said. “Taxi drivers on average make just over HK$1,000 a day and that would be around $50 deducted from their income if all passengers used e-payment.

Hung added that most of the city’s about 40,000 taxi drivers are self-employed, and prefer clearing all payment in cash each day.

The overall taxi satisfaction rate also suggested room for improvement.

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Yick suggested establishing a centralised monitoring system for taxis so that it would be easier to diversify the types of services offered as well as keeping an eye on quality.

Hung supported that view, acknowledging the reputational damage done to the industry by attention-grabbing miscreant drivers.

“We don’t want some bad apples ruining the reputation of the whole industry,” he said.

“With centralised monitoring, we can have a points system where drivers breaching the code of conduct will be penalised or even have their licence revoked.”