Govt policy forcing taxi drivers to break law, says union leader

July 13, 2015 14:29
Some taxi drivers in Tsim Sha Tsui (inset) and Lan Kwai Fong in Central select and overcharge customers, according to Ming Pao reporters. Photos:, Ming Pao

Some drivers are giving Hong Kong's taxi industry a bad name by engaging in questionable practices such as overcharging and refusing hire, according to a union leader.

But To Sun-tong, a director of the Motor Transport Workers General Union's Taxi Drivers Branch, said they are a small minority forced to break the law because of unfavorable government policy.

To was reacting to reports of taxi drivers overcharging and soliciting passengers and refusing hire.

Ming Pao Daily reporters posing as passengers said they were refused by two taxi drivers in Tsim Sha Tsui after telling them they wanted to go to Hong Kong Island.

At least 30 other passengers were given the cold treatment even after the drivers had flagged down the meter, they said.

The drivers merely said they were not crossing the harbor.

The situation is similar in Central, such as in Wellington Street, during late nights, the reporters said.

Drivers would ask for HK$100 (US$12.90) for the short ride to Wan Chai from Lan Kwai Fong, according to witnesses interviewed by the reporters.

A passenger, surnamed Chan, said she has been charged HK$250 for an 11 p.m. trip from Central to Mong Kok, which normally costs less than HK$100.

Hong Kong's traffic ordinance prohibits taxi drivers from overcharging and selecting passengers, refusing hire and taking detours.

Also, they are not allowed to solicit rides for out-of-meter deals.

Offenders could be jailed up to six months and fined as much as HK$10,000.  

Transport authorities received 2,259 complaints about taxi services in the first quarter, official data shows.

The number is down 2.8 percent from last year's 10,060 complaints, which was up 8.1 percent from 2013.

A quarter of the complaints in 2014 related to refusal to take passengers, up 10.8 percent year on year.

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