Taxi alliance threatens to flood Central with cabs in protest against Uber

Taxis on a busy street in Hong Kong in 2015.
Taxis on a busy street in Hong Kong in 2015.

Upset with Uber, a taxi driver alliance is threatening to flood Central with taxis, unless the government meets them and address their grievances.

They accuse the government of “turning a blind eye” to the ride-hailing service’s illegal services in Hong Kong, reported RTHK.

To show they mean business, drivers from the group will tomorrow hold a “drive slow” protest around the government’s headquarters in Admiralty from 8am until noon, reported Apple Daily. This should not be confused with the “refuse to pick up passengers as required by law” protests they routinely carry out on weekend nights.

Then at noon, all alliance drivers will express their feelings the best way they know how: by honking their horns in unison for 30 seconds.

They will also tie black ribbons to their cabs and hang banners in their windows, the Standard reported.

Alliance spokesman Chan Man-keung said the group had requested to meet Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan but had received no response, according to the newspaper.

They want to discuss the threat posed by drivers for Uber, which has no legal status in Hong Kong but continues to challenge often-maligned traditional taxis for customers.

According to RTHK, alliance convenor Francis Li said the government should shut Uber down immediately and boot them “back to America.”

Though the Transport and Housing Bureau said it was keeping an “open mind” about car-hailing services, the government’s current policy practically outlaws the practice.

The services, such as Uber, Ryde and Hopsee, are required to operate like traditional taxis and obtain one of the 1,500 hire-car permits allocated by the city. The permit’s strict criteria make them difficult for ride-hailing drivers to obtain one.

However, in the corner of the ride-hailing service is Hong Kong’s Consumer Council, which last year released a report criticizing the government for failing to embrace the services to increase competition and improve the industry.

The government, though cold on ride sharing, has proposed launching 600 franchised taxis to provide a “premium service” in the city.

This, too, it appears, has upset taxi drivers, with Li saying the scheme would “downgrade licensed taxis to low-quality cabs.” 

For those of you curious as to how Hong Kong’s “high-quality” cabs currently work, and why people might be apt to try ride-sharing apps, please check out the following video.

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