Consider it a Christmas present for those of us tired of being overcharged for Hong Kong taxis. Four not-so-wise men who drive cabs for a living were arrested by police yesterday on suspicion of overcharging passengers.
After getting into the taxis, the four drivers — whose ages ranged from 32 to 62 years old — told the passengers to pay up, with each requesting fares ranging from HK$100 to HK$250 (US$13 to US$32) for journeys that should have cost no more than HK$30 to HK$50 (US$4 to US$6).
After arriving at their destinations, officers lowered the boom, revealing their true identities. Three of the drivers were arrested for overcharging and not using taxi meters, while one was arrested just for overcharging.
All four drivers have been released on bail and are required to report back to the police in late January.
News of the arrests come months after it was reported that the government would be considering imposing a demerits system for cab drivers who either overcharge, tamper with meters, refuse fares, or take roundabout routes to their destinations.
The Transport and Housing Bureau is expected to table its final recommendations about improving the taxi sector at Legco in the first half of next year.
Under the current Road Traffic Ordinance, taxi drivers who commit any of the offenses mentioned above can get up to six months in jail and a fine of HK$10,000 (US$1,300), while a repeat offender may face 12 months imprisonment and a fine of HK$25,000 (US$3,200).
Frustration with the city’s cabbies have led many into the arms of ride-hailing service Uber, though the government continues to hold that private ride-hailing drivers are breaking the law if they carry passengers without a hire-car permit, which most don’t have. That said, it’s hard to blame people for choosing Uber when taxis so routinely refuse to pick them up (and then overcharge when they do).
If you’re curious about Uber’s current, slightly dubious operations in Hong Kong, you should check out our feature right here.