Points system mooted for errant cabbies

Local | Sum Lok-kei Apr 21, 2017
An "offense point system" would be more effective than the proposed "premium taxi" scheme for lifting the service quality of Hong Kong's 18,000 cabbies, transport-sector lawmaker Frankie Yick Chi-ming suggested yesterday.

Yick said the trade should train up more well-mannered drivers and an offense point system similar to the one being implemented in Taiwan would help achieve this.

He said the Hong Kong Taxi Council, which represents about half of the drivers, backed the idea, as well as some other lawmakers. "It is not that we don't have enough taxis, but we need more good-quality drivers," Yick said.

Under the proposed system, points would be added to the driver's license if complaints about poor service are substantiated, Yick suggested. First- time offenders would be required to attend retraining courses, while re- offenders could have their license suspended or terminated.

Yick said the council has already devised a training course, while the Employees Retraining Board provides courses to teach the drivers to communicate properly with passengers and improve their driving manners.

He also proposed installing cameras in the taxis to monitor the drivers' behaviors.

Yick's development blueprint for the taxi industry also includes measures to attract young people to join the industry, as the average age of cabbies in Hong Kong is 58.

Mark Fu Cheun-fu, an independent director of the taxi council, urged the government to lower the entry requirement of the taxi written test from three years of driving experience to one year. As the test is only open to those who have held a driving license for at least three years, Fu said the youngest a taxi driver could be is 21 years old.

"Just because someone has held a license for three years doesn't mean that he is more experienced," Fu said, adding that the government should lower the bar to one year.

Yick's blueprint is a counterproposal to the government's "franchised taxi" scheme put forward by Secretary for Transport Anthony Cheung Bing-leung last month.

Although a timeline has yet to be announced, Cheung said the government is considering letting three companies run a total of 600 "franchised" taxis in the city.

The "premium" rides will cost more but guarantee better service and driver attitude, the government said.

A Transport Department spokeswoman said more details of the franchised taxi scheme will be unveiled in a report in June.

Lawmaker Leung Mei-fun, who supports Yick's proposal, said the government's plan will bring "unfair competition" to the taxi industry. She fears that the public may label the non- franchised taxis as "sub-par." Yick said he will bring his proposal to the Legislative Council's transport panel in the near future.

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June 2017