Hong Kong people will have to shell out more for taxi rides from April 9 as the government has agreed to a request from taxi operators for an upward revision in the fare mechanism.
On Tuesday, the Executive Council cleared a proposal under which the flag-down rates for all taxis will go up by HK$2, or about 10 percent, from current fare levels.
The rate revision, the first such move in three years, will also see the incremental fares rise after the first two kilometers, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
With the new rules, the flag-fall rate in the urban areas will be HK$24, while that in New Territories and Lantau Island will be HK$20.5 and HK$19, respectively.
In addition, fares will rise by HK$10 cents more for every 200 meters traveled in urban areas to HK$1.70. The increase applies to the first 9 km, after which it will rise HK$10 cents to HK$1.2 per 200 meters.
Similar rises will also be applied to New Territories green taxis and Lantau blue taxis.
Meanwhile, baggage charges for items put in the boot will rise by HK$1 to HK$6 per piece.
While the government has cleared the higher fares, it did not, however, agree to shrink the time span of each rate jump to 45 seconds from 60 seconds, rejecting a request by the taxi operators.
To Sun-tong, director of the taxi branch of the Motor Transport Workers General Union, was quoted by Sing Tao Daily as saying the fare increase could help add HK$60-HK$100 to the daily income of taxi drivers.
He said the union and the taxi operators have agreed not to bring up the issue of raising the taxi rental fees for 3-6 months after the new rates are implemented.
A spokesman from the Transport and Housing Bureau said the fare adjustments took into consideration drivers’ income, changes in operating costs and citizens’ fare tolerance levels.
He said the taxi industry is aware of the public’s concern over drivers’ service quality and that some improvement measures are in the pipeline, including retraining sessions and launch of Apps for taxi hailing.
For many people, service quality of taxis is still an unsolved issue, a factor that has prompted riders to turn to car-hailing firms such as Uber.
It is possible that the taxi fare increase will encourage more people to switch to Uber and other such services.
Some taxi drivers admit that they worry about the prospect although they welcome the new fares in general.
A veteran taxi driver told Apple Daily that a rate rise may not necessarily translate to more income for the cabbies, and that it could instead give competitors that use mobile technology a boost.
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