Taxis bid with a new app to win back the hearts of passengers from Uber

Taxis bid with a new app to win back the hearts of passengers from Uber

Uber has competition as Hong Kong Taxi Trade Council plans to launch new smartphone app to hail cabs and rate drivers

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Last year, 10,000 complaints were filed against taxi drivers.
Photo; K.Y. Cheng

A group of Hong Kong taxi drivers has united to launch an app which will allow passengers to hail cabs and rate their drivers. The Hong Kong Taxi Trade Council is trying to win back passengers who prefer to use the popular Uber taxi app.

Young Post Junior Reporter Ruby Leung who took Uber in August said she would try the new taxi hailing app. "A taxi is less expensive than Uber. I also believe using a taxi-hailing app can save a lot of time because it's hard to catch a taxi, especially when we have to wait for it after concerts. So if we can call a taxi in advance, we can save so much time," she said.

But another Junior Reporter, Jessie Pang, who accompanied Ruby on her Uber journey, said she would not use the taxi app. "Service is my top priority. Uber drivers are usually more polite than taxi drivers," said Jessie.

Last year, 10,000 complaints were filed against taxi drivers to the government's Transport Complaints Unit. This is the highest number of complaints against taxis ever.

The city's taxi industry is facing tough competition as car-hailing apps such as Uber gain popularity among Hongkongers. In August, police arrested seven Uber drivers and raided the American firm's local office.

The first attempt to "win back the public's trust in the taxi service" would be the launch of a smartphone app, said transport sector lawmaker Frankie Yick Chi-ming from the Liberal Party. Tentatively set for spring next year, it will offer 500 taxis - three per cent of the city's cabs - for passengers to hail.

Another feature of the app is to allow passengers to review a driver's performance.

In the long run, the council will discuss with the government how the industry can attract young people. But Nick Leung, a Shatin College student, said he had no plans to be a taxi driver considering the salary and job nature. "It's low paid, boring and repetitive," he said.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Bid to win back the hearts of passengers

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2 Comments

Susan Ramsay

10:23am

We need Uber in Hong Kong. I had to take my dog to the SPCA in Wan Chai and I live in Tseung Kwan O. We tried phoning two taxi companies for a car, there were none. So we had to try our luck downstairs. We waited 45 minutes before the first taxi appeared and then he point blank refused to take us to where we wanted to go. Eventually we had to take the mini bus in to Hang Hau to try to get a taxi there, which thankfully we did.
Then, trying to get back from Wan Chai, we were literally outside a garage that the drivers use to fill up, and car after car after car waved us off. They could see that my dog was terrified in the traffic, but none had it in his heart to help.
One stopped to drop off a passenger and then refused to take us. Eventually the next one that stopped agreed to take us - double tunnel fare of course and a surcharge for the dog, which I don't mind paying in the least. In fact I gave him a whopping tip.
How much easier it would have been if I could have been sure there would be a car to take us and a car to take us home and not have to put my dog through what for her was more than an hour of terror.