27th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) A mainland Chinese woman in Hong Kong claimed to have encountered an overcharging incident during a taxi ride. She boarded a taxi from Tsim Sha Tsui to Causeway Bay and was ultimately charged $183 for the fare. Finding the fare much higher than expected, she accused the taxi driver of operating an illicit “black cab” service, sparking a heated discussion among netizens.
The government has taken a strong stance against misconduct within the taxi industry, emphasising that such unlawful practices should not be tolerated. Law enforcement agencies have vowed to enhance efforts to combat these behaviours and prevent a few bad actors from tarnishing the reputation of the entire industry. On the day of the incident (26th), the mainland woman, pressed for time and seeking to avoid crowded public transport, opted to take a taxi instead of the subway.
The woman and her companions hailed a taxi on a side street and requested to be taken from Tsim Sha Tsui to Causeway Bay. According to her, the distance displayed on the map was only around 3 kilometres, but the journey lasted 30 minutes and included various detours through tunnels. When they noticed something amiss and questioned the driver, he appeared evasive and his responses grew increasingly feeble. Being her first time in Hong Kong and unaware of the proper channels for reporting complaints, coupled with the urgency of their next engagement, she requested a receipt from the driver. To her dismay, the receipt indicated a charge for “tunnel fees.” Frustrated, she vented, “Why doesn’t Hong Kong have ride-hailing apps? I’m truly scared. I won’t take a taxi again. I took a taxi to save time, but ended up spending $180 and still missed my appointment.”
According to the receipt, the taxi journey lasted approximately 33 minutes, covering a total distance of 12.55 kilometres, with a chargeable distance being 12.21 kilometres and chargeable minutes at 14.32. Additional charges amounted to $50, resulting in a total fare of $183. She posted the receipt along with the phrase “black cab” to highlight her allegations.
In response to the woman’s accusations, some netizens used ride-hailing apps on their phones to estimate the fare, stating that even without considering the tunnel fees, the fare would have been above $100. They also mentioned that taxis incur a toll of $25 for the cross-harbour tunnel on both the outbound and return trips. Although some taxis choose to take the Western Harbor Crossing to avoid heavy traffic at the Cross-Harbor Tunnel, which also incurs a $25 toll, the longer distance is unavoidable. Many netizens supported the taxi’s fare, arguing that “The price is correct. Taxis have a starting fare of HK$27 for the first 2 kilometres, and then HK$1.9 for every 200 meters thereafter,” and “How can you cross the harbour without paying the tunnel fee?” Some criticized the woman for immediately labelling the taxi as a black cab, remarking, “She’s quite quick to call it a black cab, quite talented.”