The number of complaints against taxi drivers in Hong Kong hit a record 11,000 last year, having more than doubled over the past decade and a half. Most gripes were related to bad driving, longer routes and overcharging, according to the government’s Transport Complaints Unit on Thursday. However, Ng Kwan-sing, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Taxi Council, an organisation comprising taxi owners, drivers and other stakeholders, which promotes improved service and development of the industry, pinned some of the blame on miscommunication between cabbies and passengers. “Say a passenger usually pays HK$45 [US$5.80] for the same trip, but is charged HK$47 this time, they might think they are being overcharged,” Ng said. “But the extra cost this time might be because of congestion and a longer time being stationary.” Under current regulations, for every one minute a cab is stationary, the fare rises an increment. The unit said 2,851 complaints were lodged against cabbies in the last quarter of 2018. Combined with the 8,149 from the first three quarters, the total reached 11,000 for the year – beating the previous peak of 10,759 in 2017. ‘Whatever Uber can do, we’ll do it better’: Hong Kong cabbies hit back It also meant the annual total had risen 208 per cent from 2004, when 5,291 complaints were filed. According to Transport Department figures, Hong Kong had 210,524 licensed cabbies at the end of last year and 18,163 taxis. The average daily patronage is near to 1 million, according to the department. Ng said the introduction of a new mobile application next month should give passengers a better experience. The app, called eTaxi, was announced early this month. Apart from allowing users to hail cabs, Ng said the app had a function where passengers could leave feedback and file reports on lost property. In the last quarter, 686 complaints were about cabbies refusing to accept a hire. Another 500 each were related to bad driving and drivers taking longer routes, while 451 complaints concerned overcharging. Compared with the third quarter, there were fewer grumbles about cabbies refusing to accept a hire or not wanting to drive to the passenger’s desired location, but there was an increase in complaints on overcharging and drivers taking the long route. Nearly half of taxi drivers are 60 or above, sparking health concerns Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho, vice-chairman of the Legislative Council’s transport panel, said the rising number of complaints was alarming. “If you divide it up it is quite scary,” he said, noting that on average there were 30 complaints a day. Tam also said the authorities needed to take a more systematic approach to raising taxi service quality.