Bumper increase. Fares for all Hong Kong taxis are set to increase from April 9, 2017. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Hong Kong taxi fares will increase by an average of 10% from April 9, the Executive Council, the government’s top decision-making body, announced on Tuesday.

ExCo approved adjustments to the urban, New Territories (NT) and Lantau taxi fares, with increases of HK$2 (26 US cents) in flagfall charges, 10 HK cents in the incremental charge for the first-tier distance and 20 HK cents in the incremental charge for the second-tier distance after flagfall, according to a statement on the government website.

For urban taxis, the new flagfall charge for the first 2km is HK$24. New incremental charges for every 200 meters travelled after the flagfall is HK$1.70, while every 200 meters travelled after 9km is HK$1.20.

The fare increase is expected to raise the cost for passengers who travel from Hong Kong International Airport to Central to HK$330 from the current HK$300. In New York, a similar ride from the JFK Airport to Manhattan district costs about US$58, which includes all surcharges but excludes the tip for the driver, according to the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission. 

According the Hong Kong government’s recommendation, the average increase in rates on urban, NT and Lantau taxi fares are 9.98%, 11.15% and 8.60% respectively.

The government said it had considered various factors and endeavored to strike a balance among various concerns, so the adjusted fares are set at a level generally acceptable to stakeholders. 

Democratic Party legislator Lam Cheuk-ting was quoted as saying in a Metro Daily report on Wednesday that the latest taxi fare hike was acceptable since the last one was three years ago. However, he said the taxi sector should keep improving their services, avoiding unfavorable situations such as excessive charging and refusing to take passengers.

Lai Hoi-ping, chairman of Hong Kong Taxi Association, said the approved fare increase was smaller than what the sector applied for but it was acceptable. Lai said the taxi sector was facing severe competition from ride-hailing app Uber.

A frequent taxi user surnamed Lee said the fare increase was not justified as services remain unsatisfactory. She said she preferred to use services via mobile apps.

Blue taxis are in service on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. Photo: Wikimedia Commons