A taxi driver was arrested in a police sting operation for allegedly overcharging for a journey in the early hours of Sunday. The move came amid a crackdown on taxi drivers overcharging passengers over the last two months.

An undercover officer posed as a passenger after hailing a cab on Lyndhurst Terrace in Central. The officer asked to go to a hotel in North Point, but the driver, Mr Yau, 64, did not start the taximeter. He instead asked for HK$150 for the journey. The fare would have amounted to around HK$60 on the taximeter. 

The officer revealed his identity upon arrival and arrested Yau, Apple Daily reported.

Hong Kong taxi
Hong Kong taxi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Yau told the officer that it was the first time ever he had asked for a fare more than normal. He was arrested for overcharging, failing to start the taximeter, and for not showing his taxi licence.

Yau was allowed to post bail.

Penalty ‘too low’
A police source told the newspaper that the police have been arresting overcharging taxi drivers frequently, but they keep breaking the law. The source said the police believed that it was because the penalty for the offence is too low.

Taxi drivers arrested for overcharging for the first time could be fined for HK$3,000, though their licence would not be suspended. The source said law enforcement officers suggested to the police that the penalty should be increased to a six month suspension of the taxi driving licence.

The Taxi Associations Federation chairman Choi Keung told the newspaper that he supports an increase in the penalty when overcharging is observed frequently.

He said multiple offenders should be suspended to warn them. “Let them know they cannot do it again, just because they can pay the fine and solve the problem,” he said.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.