TAXIS

Hong Kong has 18,131 (at end of 2012) licensed taxis, providing a personalised point-to-point public transport service. In comparison to most other major cities, fares are modest and did not increase between 1998 and 2007. However, in February 2008 a modest one HK dollar rise in flagfall for Urban and New Territories taxis was applied. Following a review of taxi fares and applications for increases from taxi operators associations the government approved further fare adjustments for urban and Lantau taxis which took effect on 30th November 2008 and a new fare structure for New Territories taxis took effect on 16th January 2009. In June 2010 the Transport Department confirmed that some 37 taxi companies had agreed to support an earlier proposal by one taxi company for the flagfall for red urban taxis to be increased by HK$2 to HK$20 and only three companies opposed the proposal. In September 2010 an application for a HK$2 rise in flagfall to HK$16.5 was supported by 17 out of 18 New Territories green taxi operating groups and an application was also made to increase the flagfall for Lantau taxis to HK$15. Following assessments and consultations by the Transport Department these increases were approved by the Legislative Council on 3rd May 2011 and took effect on 10th July 2011. In May 2012, in view of continuing rising fuel and maintenance costs taxi owners put forward applications for the current flagfall for the first 2km, of HK$20 for urban taxis and HK$15 for Lantau taxis to be increased by HK$2 to HK$22 and HK$17 respectively and New Territories taxi owners have requested an increase in flagfall from HK$16.5 to HK$19. Urban taxi unions have also indicated that, in addition to the HK$2 increase in flagfall, they will seek to increase the rate for each 200-metres over the flagfall by ten cents from HK$1.5 to HK$1.6. There have also been proposals to introduce a fuel surcharge mechanism and in June 2013, the Transport Department confirmed it was undertaking a 14-month study into how fuel surcharges worked overseas.

At the end of 2011 approximately one million journeys per day were being made by taxi. Taxis are licensed and regulated by the Transport Department and operated by taxi companies, owners associations and independent owner operators. The majority (approx 70%) are operated by individual rentee-drivers. There are over 205,000 people with valid taxi driving licenses in Hong Kong although only a small proportion are active in the trade.

There are three types identified by colour, red (urban taxi), green (New Territories taxi) and blue (Lantau taxi). The number of taxis by type at the end of 2011 was;

Urban (RED) - 15248
New Territories (GREEN) - 2834
Lantau Island (BLUE) - 50


URBAN (RED) TAXIS are available throughout Hong Kong including the airport and Disneyland (except for roads on the south side of Lantau Island and Tung Chung Road on Lantau which is open only to authorised vehicles). Taxis are not allowed to operate to Discovery Bay and are only allowed to operate to Ma Wan from 10am to 7am the next day on Monday to Friday (except public holidays) and from 8pm to 7am the next day on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. There were 15,248 licensed urban taxis at the end of 2012.

Red (urban) taxi


NEW TERRITORIES (GREEN) TAXIS are available in the following districts;

Tuen Mun
Tai Po
Yuen Long
New Territories North
Ma On Shan area of Sha Tin District
Part of Sai Kung District

They can also carry passengers along routes to the following specific locations;

Tsuen Wan MTR Station
Prince of Wales Hospital
Sha Tin Racecourse
Shun Lee Estate, Kwun Tong
Hong Kong International Airport
Disneyland
Tsing Yi Airport Express Station
Hang Hau MTR Station

There were 2,833 licensed New Territories taxis at the end of 2012.

New Territories Green Taxis

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LANTAU ISLAND (BLUE) TAXIS are available on Lantau Island including Hong Kong International Airport and Disneyland. There were 50 licensed Lantau taxis at the end of 2012.

Lantau Blue Taxi 

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HIRING A TAXI

There are 75 taxi stands on Hong Kong Island, 104 in Kowloon, 233 in the New Territories and 26 on Lantau Island. The complete list here can be viewed here;

http://www.td.gov.hk/filemanager/en/content_276/taxi_stand20071203.xls


There are also at least 230 designated taxi pick up / drop off points and 46 drop off points.

Taxis can be hailed in the street. When a taxi is for hire this is indicated by a red “For Hire” visible through the windscreen and at night a red illuminated “Taxi” sign on the roof of the cab. In 2003 the Transport Department introduced a scheme for relaxation of no stopping restrictions (NSR) on roads with a speed limit of less than 70km per hour for taxis picking up and setting down passengers, meaning that taxis can now pick up and drop off almost anywhere, provided they do not cause an obstruction. However, taxis are not allowed to wait for passengers on roads with NSR. The scheme, under which taxi owners/drivers must apply for a permit for exemption from picking up or setting down on roads with NSR, is reviewed annually in January. Taxis are in plentiful supply day and night in urban areas and at public transport interchanges and can usually easily be hailed in the street or by a hotel concierge. In rural areas of the New Territories and on Lantau Island taxis are a little more scarce. Several taxi operators provide a telephone booking service and details can be found below.

All taxis are made by Toyota who currently have a monopoly on supply of Hong Kong taxis through local Toyota agent Crown Motors. However, Chinese car manufacturer Geely Automobile, who produce the London cab, are working on a design for a modified LPG fuelled London cab with wheelchair access, suitable for the roads of Hong Kong which is expected to be in mass production in mid-2011. If talks with local taxi operators are successful Toyota Crown's decade-long monopoly may be under threat.

Taxis are licensed to carry either four or five passengers although since August 2008 all new taxis delivered to Hong Kong are four-seaters as the vehicle has had to be modified to comply with Japanese exhaust emission standards. It is expected that the five-seater taxi will disappear from Hong Kong's streets by 2018. Only 3% of journeys carry five passengers and the change from five-seat to four-seat taxis is not expected to have any significant effect on taxi services. By the end of 2011 there were about 1,060 four-seat taxis in the fleet. Children under 3 years of age are not counted as a passenger and three children age 3 or over but under 1.3-metres in height are counted as two passengers. However, two children over 3 years of age but under 1.3-metres height are counted as two passengers.



Since August 2008 all new taxis have been 4-seat capacity as the 5-seat taxi is no longer manufactured


Taxis are comfortable and have plenty of boot space for luggage, usually being able to carry at least three regular size suitcases. All taxis are fitted with seat belts and it is mandatory for both driver and passengers to wear these. During 2010 there were 1409 prosecutions of taxi drivers or passengers for failure to wear seat belts. Smoking is not allowed in taxis.

Taxis can also be booked by telephone for which a HK$5 surcharge applies.

Between 2001 and 2004 about 99% of taxis were converted from diesel now operate on cleaner LPG fuel. Chinese car maker BYD held talks with the Hong Kong government in 2011 regarding conversion of taxis to electric-powered vehicles. It has agreed to pay HK$13.5 million to cover the construction costs of 45 quick-charging points in 15 public car parks, and another HK$9 million in provisional subsidies to help taxi operators buy 45 of its e6 electric vehicle models. The Hong Kong Taxi and Public Light Bus Association agreed to rent 45 e6 models from BYD at a total monthly rent of HK$360,000. A six-month trial of the first ten 4-passenger BYD electric taxis began in May 2013 but was curtailed the next month one of the charging units overheated and all other charging points were closed as a precaution. At the time the trial commenced there were only 17 BYD charging points ready for use, with BYD taxis being unable to use the existing 10 quick charging points and 1000 slow charging points around the city as these are only compatible with Japanese built taxis. The BYD electric taxis have much less boot space for luggage storage than the existing Toyota taxi fleet. Over 80% of the existing charging points are common 13A domestic type chargers which can take over 10 hours to fully charge an electric car. Nissan, which in 2012, relocated the global headquarters of its luxury car division, Infiniti, from Japan to Hong Kong, and which was once the dominant supplier of taxis to Hong Kong before Toyota offered cheaper repair costs, confirmed in September 2012, it was in discussions to introduce 50 Nissan Leafs for trial in early 2013, followed by a larger trial of 100 of its next generation eNV200 model electric car. In July 2012, the Environmental Protection Department had approved an amount of HK$11 million from the Green Transport Fund to import five electric taxis and two electric buses from Fiat for a two-year trial in the New Territories. Each taxi costs about HK$1.28 million, over five times the HK$240,000 cost of a traditional cab. In Italy the cabs travel about 200 kilometres before recharging but it is hoped the capacity can be increased to 280 kilometers in Hong Kong. The taxis take about 45 minutes to charge. In December 2012, Crown Motors, the sole distributor for Hong Kong's main taxi supplier, Toyota, confirmed it had received orders for 20 Prius hybrid taxis and was in discussions with the Transport Department with a view to these being licensed and introduced into service in January or February 2013. Although Toyota had previously said that its hybrid cars were not intended for commercial use, the Prius has already been succesfully operating in taxi fleets in many major cities including Sydney, Paris, Toronto and Tokyo. In February 2013, Ford Motor Company, which has opened a new dealership in the city, announced it was planning to introduce an upgraded version of its Transit Connect LPG powered car into the Hong Kong taxi market, probably in July 2013. The car has sliding doors and a more spacious interior and headroom than the Toyota Crown. In March 2013, the government's Environmental Protection Department approved applications from six companies for funding from its Pilot Green Transport Fund for trials of nine wheelchair accessible electric taxis.

Most drivers speak or understand at least a little English and will be able to get visitors to hotels, public transport locations and popular tourist attractions without any problem but to avoid any confusion it is often advisable to have your destination written in Chinese or a map to point to. In November 2007 the Hong Kong Tourism Board took the initiative of issuing all taxi drivers with a bilingual translation booklet in English and Chinese detailing names and addresses of hotels, landmarks and tourist attractions with the intention that drivers allow passengers to scan the booklet to help establish their correct destination and avoid any confusion.

Taxi drivers are not obliged to change HK$500 or HK$1000 notes.

In June 2011, following a six-month trial involving 240 taxis, Autotoll, Dah Sing Bank and Visa launched the "autoTAXI" system whereby users of Visa credit cards and Visa payWave cards are able to pay taxi fares by credit card. At launch date the system, which cost HK$10,000 was installed in about 100 taxis and had been fitted to about 600 taxis by the end of 2011. Users of Visa payWave cards were able to swipe the card against a reader, whilst users of Visa credit cards could insert the card in the machine to be processed. No signature was required for less than HK$500. "autoTAXI" system taxis were identified by a "white wings" symbol and were nicknamed "flying taxis". However, the autoTAXI service ceased operation on 10th September 2012.

Taxis installed with "autoTAXI" system accepting Visa cards displayed "autoTAXI" logo and "white wings" on rear door quarter glass before the service was discontinued in September 2012

Between December 2010 and May 2011 a pilot programme took place whereby 31 taxis were equipped with hand-held Octopus Card readers allowed passengers the option of paying by Octopus Card at the end of their journey. This has resulted in Octopus Cards Limited teaming up with multimedia platform company Motion Power to fit taxis with Octopus Card readers but progress has been slow and by early 2013, about 500 taxis were equipped. One reason for taxi drivers reluctance to accept Octopus Card payments has been that drivers are required to pay HK$250 a month to rent the Octopus Card reader plus an administration fee of 1% of daily revenue. Payments are not transferred into the taxi owners bank account until the next day, leaving some drivers who pay cash to rent vehicles from owners on a daily basis short on cash flow. As an incentive to encourage more drivers to accept Octopus payment, from February 2012 Octopus Cards Limited began paying drivers a guaranteed rebate of HK$3 each time a passenger pays the fare by Octopus Card. Octopus Cards indicated in March 2013 that it would increase the rebate to HK$5 to persuade more taxi operators to take up Octopus as a payment method. An iPhone app "TaxiGo" has been launched which uses GPS to list nearby taxis including Octopus taxis and allows passengers to order one with the touch of a screen.

A previous Octopus trial in 2006 involving 20 New Territories taxis had failed, one reason being that taxi drivers had to return to their office at the end of each shift to enable accounting formalities to be completed.


Taxis accepting Octopus Card payment display Octopus logo on the front passenger doors

In October 2011 a free "app" for smartphones, "TaxiShare" was launched, which is intended to help people share taxis by finding other passengers who wish to travel in the same direction. The app uses GPS to display passengers location and connect with others within a 250-metre radius via a chatroom. The app is available for iPhone and Android users.

All taxi drivers are required to display a taxi driver identity plate.


New version of taxi driver identity plate which was rolled out between October 2009 and March 2010

The vast majority of taxi drivers are completely honest, helpful and courteous but if any passenger is not satisfied with the service provided, he should take a note of the driver's name, registration number of the taxi and the date, time and place of the incident and report to;

(a) the Transport Complaints Unit Hotline on 2889 9999 or 2577 6866 (Fax 2577 1858). Mailing address 22/F, East Exchange Tower, 38 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

or if more appropriate;

(b) any police officer or police station. Police Hotline : 2527 7177


CURRENT FARE STRUCTURE (effective from 10th July 2011)

RED (URBAN) TAXIS

HK$20 for the first 2kms then HK$1.5 each 0.2km until the fare reaches HK$72.5 (up to 9km), then HK$1 each 0.2km from HK$72.5 upwards (journeys over 9km).

Waiting time HK$1.5 per minute up to fare of HK$72.5 then HK$1 from HK$72.5 upwards

Luggage is charged at HK$5 per piece except light luggage carried inside the passenger compartment which is free

GREEN (NEW TERRITORIES) TAXIS

HK$16.5 for first 2kms then HK$1.3 each 0.2km until the fare reaches HK$55.5 (up to 8km), then HK$1 each 0.2km from HK$55.5 upwards.

Waiting time HK$1.3 per minute up to fare HK$55.5 then HK$1 from HK$55.5 upwards.

Luggage is charged at HK$4 per piece except light luggage carried inside the passenger compartment which is free.

BLUE (LANTAU) TAXIS

HK$15 for the first 2 kms then HK$1.3 each 0.2km until the fare reaches HK$132 (up to 20km), then HK$1.2 each 0.2km from HK$132 upwards (journeys over 20km). 

Waiting time is HK$1.3 per minute up to fare of HK$132 then HK$1.2 from HK$132 upwards.

Luggage is charged at HK$5 per piece except light luggage carried inside the passenger compartment which is free.

There are extra charges where the journey uses a cross- harbour tunnel, usually the return toll plus a surcharge (except that if the journey starts starts from a cross-harbour taxi stand only the single toll is charged -see below) or other tunnels or toll roads. The fare element for using the Lantau Link is HK$30.

There are no extra charges for night time journeys or for extra passengers.


HIRING A TAXI AS A WHOLE

Regulation 38 of Hong Kong's Road Traffic Act (Public Service Vehicles) Regulations makes provision for a taxi owner to hire out a taxi as a whole, effectively allowing a taxi owner to bargain for business rather than charge by the meter. The rate of hire can be based on time during which the taxi is hired or any other terms agreed between owner and hirer. To comply with this regulation both parties must sign two copies of a document stating charges agreed, third party insurance details in respect of the taxi and names, addresses and driving licence numbers of the taxi driver/s. Each party must retain one copy of the document, which may be produced to a police officer, on demand, at any time during the hire, and in the case of the taxi owner, for up to three months after commencement of the hire.


CROSS-HARBOUR TAXI JOURNEYS

Taxi journeys between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon must pass through one of the three harbour tunnels i.e Western Harbour Crossing, Cross Harbour Tunnel and Eastern Harbour Crossing. Unless the journey commences from a cross-harbour taxi stand passengers will have to pay the return tunnel toll. However when the journey commences from a cross-harbour taxi stand only the single tunnel toll is charged. Cross-harbour taxi stands are clearly marked "Cross-harbour trips only. Single toll charge". Cross-harbour taxi stands can be identified in the list of all taxi stands on the Transport Department website;

http://www.td.gov.hk/filemanager/en/content_276/taxi_stand20071203.xls



Cross-harbour taxi stands are clearly marked and avoid return tunnel toll being charged. The stand shown is located at Man Kwong Street, Central outside Central Pier 5



TAXI BOOKING SERVICE

THE FOLLOWING TAXI OPERATORS PROVIDE A TELEPHONE BOOKING SERVICE; 

URBAN (RED) TAXIS

Kowloon Taxi Owners Association 2760 0411

United Friendship Taxi Owners & Drivers Assocn 2760 0477

Wai Yik HK & Kln. & NT Taxi Owners Assocn 2776 9282

Fraternity Taxi Owners Association 2527 6324

Hong Kong Kowloon Taxi & Lorry Owners Association Ltd 2574 7311

The Taxi Operators Association Ltd 2362 2337

Wing Lee Radio Car Traders Association Ltd 2397 0922

T.C Taxi United Association Ltd 2697 4333

Quadripartite Taxi Service Association Ltd 2332 2571

Hong Kong & Kowloon Radio Cars Association Ltd 2760 0455

Yik Sun Radiocabs Operators Association Ltd 2394 0111

.....do..... 2394 0112

.....do..... 2395 2808

Wai Fat Taxi Owners Association Ltd 2861 1008

United Radio Taxi & Goods Vehicle Association Ltd 2332 2477

Happy Taxi Operator's Association Ltd 2728 8281

Chuen Lee Radio Taxi Association Ltd 2398 1881

Golden Link Taxi Owners Association Ltd 2571 2929

Sha Tin Taxi Service Association Ltd 2332 2571

Wing Tai Car Owners & Drivers Association Ltd 2527 8524

City O.D Association Co Ltd 2343 3189

Pak Kai Radio Centre 2333 1556

Hong Kong Taxi Centre 2574 7311

Taxicom Vehicle Owners Association Ltd 2529 8822

Hong Kong & Kowloon Rich Radio Car Service Centre Assn Ltd 2729 1199

Rambo Taxi Owners Association Ltd 2383 0168

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NEW TERRITORIES (GREEN) TAXIS

The Association of N.T Radio Taxicab Ltd 2657 2267

NT Business Car Operator Fraternal Association Ltd 2457 2266

Tang's Taxi Companies Association Ltd 2457 0417

Sun Hing Taxi Radio Association 2450 2288

North District Taxi Merchants Association 2677 8888

HK Tele-call Taxi Association 2675 7688

N.T Taxi Owners & Drivers Fraternal Association 2457 2266

The Fraternity Association of N.T Taxi Merchants 2478 8332

.....do..... 2476 2265

.....do..... 2476 2266

The N.T Commercial Radio Centre Ltd 2476 4247

Fanling Taxi-Call Services Centre 2675 7688

.....do..... 2699 1088

Hong Kong & Kowloon Rich Radio Car Service Centre Assn Ltd 2729 1199

Rambo Taxi Owners Association Ltd 2383 0168

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URBAN (RED) AND NEW TERRITORIES (GREEN) TAXIS

Hong Kong & Kowloon Rich Radio Car Service Centre Assn Ltd 2729 1199

Rambo Taxi Owners Association Ltd 2383 0168

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LANTAU (BLUE) TAXIS

Lantau Taxi Association 2984 1328