Category: taxis

Lantau taxi fares up again

Lantau taxi fares are on the rise once more. From April 9, the flagfall charge will be hiked 11.7% and the incremental charge 7%.

Under the new rates, approved by the Transport & Housing Bureau and endorsed Tuesday by the chief executive in council, the flagfall will increase from $HK17 to HK$19 and the incremental charge – for every 200m – will rise from HK$1.40 to HK$1.50.

Hong Kong and New Territories cab fares will also increase by HK$2 per flagfall. In the initial application last April, Lantau drivers had sought to increase the flagfall by HK$4, Apple Daily reported.

In the last price rise in December 2013, the blue taxi flagfall was hiked from HK$15 to HK$17 and the red taxi from HK$20 to HK$22.

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Prosecutions soar for Lantau closed road breaches

Prosecutions of drivers entering South Lantau without a permit have risen by nearly three-fifths in the last two years, according to Transport Dept figures.

Police prosecuted 1007 drivers last year, up from 823 in 2014 and 637 in 2013, the department said in answer to a question from Legco member Kwok Ka Ki.

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South Lantau police chief David Bennett, a former traffic policeman who took on the post early last year, has said he would make road safety a priority.

Here come the blue taxis

More blue taxis could be hitting the Lantau roads as early as April.

The Transport Dept issued a tender for an extra 25 Lantau taxi plates on December 18, potentially increasing the stretched local fleet by 50%.

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Local taxi numbers last increased in 1997,when ten new licences were issued as Chek Lap Kok Airport began operation.

Since then Disney and Ngong Ping 360 have opened, tourist numbers have increased fivefold and the populations of both Tung Chung and South Lantau have expanded significantly.

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Transport Dept keeps ‘open mind’ on Lantau taxis

Here’s a story about the Transport Department.

When several government agencies and NGOs met in the wake of the deaths of eight cattle on Lantau 18 months ago, the TD sent an official who claimed to be so new that he didn’t have any business cards. Not only could he refrain from taking a position or making any contribution to the discussion, he smartly avoided any possible follow-up.

Here’s another story. The Transport Dept has not issued a single taxi licence in the history of the SAR.

Here’s another. When I interviewed the TD via email early last year about Lantau taxis, their spokesperson said: “We are collecting data to assess the level of taxi services in Lantau Island and will be open-minded on whether to issue additional taxi licences.”

Now, according to the Sun newspaper, the department has finally acknowledged that the blue taxi waiting time is “longer” in peak periods.

Indeed, under prodding from LanDAC, theTD has said it surveyed the Lantau taxi service last year and is now considering whether or not to issue new licences on the basis of “established policy.”

Presumably that is the established policy not to issue any licences at all.

But the department has encouraging words to the LanDAC members who suggested issuing ten ‘trial’ taxi licences.

“We’re keeping an open mind.”

More blue cabs? It can be done

Taxi queue

The good news is the Islands District Council agrees that we need more blue taxis.

The bad news is that the council has had no luck in persuading the Transport Dept, despite multiple requests.

The good news is the Transport Dept says it’s keeping an “open mind” about issuing more plates.

The bad news is it has no timetable for doing so. Continue reading

The silence of the cabbies

A quick update on the transport story, which has become primarily a taxi story.

First, getting a response from the Lantau Taxi Alliance is like trying to hail a blue cab on a summer weekend. Can’t see it happening, but will keep trying.

I’ve also put in questions to several Islands District Council members, including the chairman of the transport committee. They should respond, but the evidence to date is they’re more sympathetic to cabbies than passengers.

I’ve also included a question about Lantau cabs responding only after they are offered an inducement (a resident has just posted on Facebook her unfortunate airport experience late last night). This is not only illegal but is also compelling evidence that supply is not meeting demand. It doesn’t take Einstein to draw a link between this profitable but difficult-to-explain practice and the silence of the taxi firm.

On the bus side of things, Mr Wong Wah, the general manager of New Lantao Bus, has promised to give the bus company side of the story.

Fare game: Ferries down, taxis up

Lantau ferry fares are about to go down, but before that happens taxi charges are likely to go up.

The Legislative Council has approved a Transport and Housing Bureau plan to tip another HK$40m in subsidies into outlying island ferry services. The government already spends nearly HK$40m a year on subsidies, mostly on pier maintenance.

The new funds will be used to subsidise fares to Mui Wo, Cheng Chau and other main island routes. However, we won’t feel the effects of these until after the next three-year islands ferry tender is completed in 2011.

Meanwhile, Lantau taxis have joined urban and New Territories taxi drivers in asking for a HK$2 hike in flagfall because of higher operating costs.

The increase would amount an average 4.11% increase in Lantau taxi fares, according to a bureau policy paper.

The net income of Lantau taxi owners has fallen as much as 13% in the first ten months of 2010 compared with 2009, – a result of higher operating costs, the bureau says, although it does not say what these are.

The LegCo Transport Panel will consider the price increases on Friday.