The government is pressing ahead with plans to introduce a demerit points system for taxi drivers to curb offenses such as overcharging or refusing a face.
The Taxi Driver-Offence Points System will record demerits on 11 cabbie offences, with penalties imposed once a threshold is breached.
Taxi drivers who receive 15 offence points or more in two years for the first time will see their licenses taken away for three months, according to a paper submitted by the Transport and Housing Bureau to the Legislative Council on Wednesday.
If such points are accumulated a second time, the license will be suspended for half a year.
The taxi drivers will receive an Obligatory Attendance of Taxi Service Improvement Course Notice if they incur 10 or more but less than 15 points in two years.
The driver will need to attend and complete a driving improvement course at the driver’s own cost in three months. Three points can be deducted after completion of the course.
Taxi drivers who overcharge, refuse or neglect to accept a hire, refuse or neglect to drive the taxi to the place indicated by the passenger, or not using the most direct practicable route, will be assigned with 10 offence points.
Five points will be given to those who refuse to carry the number of passengers allowed by law, commit “taxi pooling”, refuse to issue a receipt, deceive or refuse to inform a passenger as to the proper fare and route to any place, or don’t use the taximeter properly.
The government also plans a two-tier penalty system to step up punishments for repeat offenders on six offenses.
Those offences include overcharging, refusal to hire, not using the most direct practicable route, soliciting, and defacing, damaging or altering of taximeters.
To Sun-tong, director of the Motor Transport Workers General Union’s taxi driver unit, said they generally agree with the demerit point system.
But he expressed concern that the system could be abused. Among other issues, he called on the government to further define the meaning of “refuse to hire”.
Hong Kong Taxi Council vice chairman Wong Po-keung, said the penalties are too heavy and unfair to the trade.
In relation to the government’s proposal to have CCTVs voluntarily installed in taxis, Wong was, however, in agreement, saying the surveillance system can help improve the taxi service.
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