I am writing about the need to legalise Uber in Hong Kong. People were shocked by the murder of two Didi (a ride-sharing service on the mainland) passengers on the mainland, raising doubts about using such ride-hailing services. I believe the best way to protect customers is to legalise these businesses.
With proper laws in place, the Hong Kong government would be able to closely monitor Uber’s operations. At the moment, if there is an accident, then the passengers may not get any compensation.
There are about 18,000 taxis in Hong Kong, but this is not enough to meet the demand. People often find it difficult to get a cab during rush hour. As a result, they might then become late for work or school.
Uber makes the transport industry a little more competitive. Currently, the government is allowing existing taxi licence holders to dominate the market. This has to end.
Plenty of people have complained about the taxi drivers’ poor attitude, and for taking unnecessarily longer routes than they should – which increases the fare.
Having actual competitors would give cab drivers an incentive to improve their services.
Therefore, the benefits of legalising Uber outweigh the disadvantages.
Ho Man-ching, Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College
From the Editor
Thank you for your email, Man-ching. You raise several good points, including legalising Uber would mean some sort of formal supervision. We’re not sure it would be the government, though, as Hong Kong likes to keep its economy as free as possible.
It’s never a good idea to criminalise something without a lot of thought. Making something illegal brings its own problems like how to police it, what sort of punishment should be meted out to the guilty, and so on.
While the case of the Didi passengers is awful, there is never any guarantee that when you get into someone’s car you are going to be perfectly safe. We live in an extremely safe city but at the same time we need to understand that bad people exist.
What’s more, Uber is not as wonderful as it sounds. It might be able to offer a better service – usually at a higher cost – but it’s not good for the drivers. Far from having a flexible job, they usually have to drive when Uber says so, and they pick up all the costs of running the car. Also, when they are sick, they don’t earn anything. Most companies pay their employees if they take time off when they are ill.