Three legislators have proposed a penalty points system to improve the taxi industry, instead of the government’s plan to introduce premium taxi services.
Lawmakers Frankie Yick Chi-ming, Priscilla Leung Mei-fun and Edward Lau Kwok-fan said they hope that their “Taxi 2020″ development plan would persuade the government to rethink its new franchised taxi scheme, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The three lawmakers, who are members of the Legislative Council’s Panel on Transport, said their proposal seeks to improve taxi service by implementing a regulatory framework rather than introducing unfair competition to the industry with new franchised taxis.
Representatives of the taxi industry said over 100 people would be staging a protest outside the Legco building on Friday, when the panel was scheduled to discuss the Transport and Housing Bureau’s plan to introduce a premium taxi service.
Yick said the government should start monitoring the performance of taxi drivers instead of rolling out new franchises that would put cabbies out of business, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Fu Chuen-fu from the Hong Kong Taxi Council said that under the regulatory framework, taxi drivers will be handed penalty points should they violate the rules.
If the penalty points they incur reach a certain level, their license would be suspended.
Fu believes the new policies outlined in “Taxi 2020” would prompt taxi drivers to improve their services if they want to remain in business.
They also called for tighter monitoring of taxi drivers, which may involve the use of surveillance cameras inside the vehicles, higher salaries to attract younger drivers, simplification of procedures in filing complaints against erring drivers, and a new qualification framework.
Ng Kwan-sing, chairman of the Taxi Dealers and Owners Association, welcomes the new proposals, even as he criticized the government for not communicating properly with the taxi industry before proposing its new franchise system.
The Transport and Housing Bureau told HKEJ that the government has been consulting with many stakeholders in the taxi trade, citing its meetings with industry representatives on March 23 and 24.
The bureau also said the current business model, which allows taxi licenses to freely change hands, is not effective in tackling issues such as bad service quality and boosting the number of taxi operators and fleets.
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