Hong Kong government intensifies crackdown on unauthorised “black taxis”

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19th June 2024 – (Hong Kong) In an effort to combat the growing issue of unauthorised “black taxis,” the Hong Kong government has unveiled a series of measures aimed at enhancing regulation and improving taxi services in the city. These illegal operators, known as “black sheep” in the trade, have been accused of overcharging passengers and cherry-picking customers, tarnishing the reputation of the taxi industry and causing public discontent.

Addressing concerns raised by taxi trade members, the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Lam Sai-hung, provided details of the government’s strategy during a recent Legislative Council session. In response to the community’s demand for stronger regulation, the government conducted a comprehensive review of taxi operation and management, resulting in the introduction of several initiatives to bolster the quality of services provided.

One such measure is the implementation of a Taxi-Driver-Offence Points (TDOP) System, which was passed by the Legislative Council in December 2023. This system, set to take effect on September 22 this year, aims to deter illegal activities by imposing penalties on taxi drivers who repeatedly violate regulations. Additionally, a two-tier penalty system for certain taxi-driver-related offences has been put in place since 22nd December last year.

To effectively combat the illegal practices of these unauthorized “black taxis,” the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) has been utilizing various measures, including intelligence-led operations, decoy operations, and increased public awareness campaigns. However, the HKPF does not maintain specific figures regarding the breakdown of enforcement actions against taxi drivers’ malpractices.

Nevertheless, enforcement actions taken by the HKPF against taxi driver offences in the past five years indicate the severity of the issue. Instances of overcharging, refusing or neglecting to accept a hire, failing to drive to the indicated destination, and other offences have been recorded. The numbers of enforcement actions taken against these offences varied from year to year, with a total of 51 cases of overcharging in 2019, and an increase to 85 cases in 2023.

In terms of public complaints, both the Transport Department (TD) and the HKPF have received numerous reports regarding malpractices by taxi drivers. These complaints encompass a range of issues, including overcharging, refusing to accept a hire, improper driving behaviour, and taximeter irregularities. The number of complaints received by the TD and the HKPF has shown an upward trend in recent years, reflecting growing dissatisfaction among passengers.

To address the situation effectively, the Hong Kong authorities are exploring various approaches. One such approach involves increased police presence in tourist-intensive areas, such as the Peak Tram Central Terminus and the Peak, where cases of unauthorized “black taxis” operating as a syndicate have been reported. By deploying more police officers to these locations, the government aims to maintain order and intensify law enforcement efforts.

In collaboration with the taxi trade, the Lan Kwai Fong Association, and the Central and Western District Road Safety Campaign Committee (C&W DRSCC), the HKPF has launched a three-month initiative called the Lan Kwai Fong Taxi Ambassadors Scheme. Under this scheme, designated Taxi Ambassadors distribute information cards to passengers, providing useful details such as estimated fares, taxi license plate numbers, and destinations. Law-abiding and quality taxis are also stationed at Lan Kwai Fong during peak hours to ensure an adequate supply of reliable transportation options.