Taxi industry concerned about “double punishment” in Taxi-Driver-Offence Points System, calls for unified ride-hailing platform

Dr. Ryan Wong Cheuk-pong.

2nd October 2023 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong authorities are considering the implementation of  Taxi-Driver-Offence Points System to enhance deterrence. Under this system, taxi drivers who commit offences such as overcharging fares or refusal to pick up passengers will receive penalty points. If a driver accumulates 15 points within two years, their license will be suspended for a period of 3 to 6 months.

Dr. Ryan Wong Cheuk-pong, chairman of the Hong Kong Taxi Council, expressed concerns about the proposed  Taxi-Driver-Offence Points System, stating that it is similar to the existing driving offence point system and worries about the concept of “double punishment.” He also highlighted the difficulties in gathering evidence and enforcing taxi violations. Dr. Wong suggested that the authorities establish a unified ride-hailing platform and install cameras in all taxis, which could be accessed by law enforcement agencies when necessary.

Dr. Wong acknowledged the issue of overcharging fares in the industry but criticised the addition of a new  Taxi-Driver-Offence Points System as unnecessary. He suggested that the government should appeal against lenient judgments in cases of taxi driver offences and impose heavier fines and sentences to strengthen deterrence. He also noted the challenges in defining what constitutes the “most practical route” for taxi drivers, as well as the desire for a unified ride-hailing platform to improve efficiency and matching rates.

To avoid disputes between drivers and passengers, Dr. Wong proposed the installation of cameras in taxis to provide evidence and protect both parties. However, he recommended that the recorded footage should not be downloaded by drivers or passengers but instead uploaded to the cloud and accessed by law enforcement agencies or the courts when necessary.

The government published the relevant draft legislation in July of this year and initiated the first and second readings. The authorities estimate that the Taxi-Driver-Offence Points System will come into effect within nine months after the legislation is published to allow sufficient preparation time for the Transport Department and the taxi industry.