Date
18 January 2017
A Hong Kong urban taxi (left) charges HK$8 per kilometer for short routes, while an UberX passenger can ride on a Toyota Prius at a rate of only HK$6 per kilometer. Photos: CNSA, Bloomberg
A Hong Kong urban taxi (left) charges HK$8 per kilometer for short routes, while an UberX passenger can ride on a Toyota Prius at a rate of only HK$6 per kilometer. Photos: CNSA, Bloomberg

Uber HK launches low-cost car-hailing service

Car-hailing company Uber launched on Friday a new service called UberX in Hong Kong, targeting budget-conscious commuters.

The new service comes after police arrested some of its staff and drivers in August on charges of running an illegal service. 

Uber Hong Kong spokesman Li Man-chun said the minimum charge for UberX is HK$30 (US$3.87) per trip, compared with a flagdown rate of HK$22 for a regular taxi, Apple Daily reported.

It charges HK$6 per kilometer, lower than the HK$8 charged by a taxi for short routes.

In addition, UberX passengers can enjoy some of the car models originally used for Uber Black, its luxury service, including Toyota Prius and Honda Jazz.

UberX is currently being offered in more than 200 cities around the world as is a more convenient, lower-cost option for commuters, the company said on its website.

Meanwhile, Uber Hong Kong raised the minimum charge for its Uber Black service to HK$50 from HK$40, with the per-kilometer rate adjusted to HK$8 from HK$6.

Li said the company has informed the government about the newly launched UberX service even as he reiterated that it is not meant to take away business from taxi drivers.

However, Ng Kwan-shing, chairman of the Taxi Dealers and Owners Association, said UberX is clearly aimed at the taxi service. 

Ng said the Uber service will trigger a rise in the number of “pak pai” cars — vehicles for hire without government permits — hurt the earnings of taxi drivers, and threaten passenger safety.

He urged the government to enforce the law to prevent the situation from worsening.

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