The government is studying a penalty points scheme to improve the service quality provided by taxi drivers.

Under the suggested scheme, if drivers receive 15 points in two years, their licences will be frozen for three months, and then six months if they receive another 15 points.

Drivers will receive ten points for offences such as refusing to take passengers, taking a route longer than necessary, interfering with the meter, or overcharging. They will receive five points if they refuse to give a receipt, or fail to have enough coins for change.

File photo: GovHK.

They will receive three points in penalty for wearing inappropriate clothing or failing to switch on the taxi light at night.

The Transport and Housing Bureau said it had consulted the Committee on Taxi Service Quality last month, and a legislative suggestion would be sent to lawmakers next year.

‘Too harsh’

Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam said he supported the scheme, but he did not agree with all the details.

He said there are existing criminal laws covering taxi drivers failing to provide change.

“Some of the penalties may be too harsh,” he said. “For instance, not switching on the taxi light – it may not be a problem in terms of taxi service quality.”

He said the government also told him it was technically feasible to install a recording device in the taxi meter to provide evidence in disputes, but the government was still considering it.

Jeremy Tam. Photo: LegCo.

To Sun-tong, a representative of the Motor Transport Workers General Union, said on a RTHK radio programme that drivers were shocked and angered by the proposed scheme.

He said the scheme would put pressure on drivers, causing fewer people to be willing to be taxi drivers. He added that it may not be effective, as passengers can file a complaint easily.

“You forget to say good morning, then you don’t have good manners,” he said.

He also said there were “grey areas” over the definition of overcharging, as some passengers may give tips to drivers.

Kris Cheng

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.