Hong Kong taxis may join hands with Uber

Hong Kong’s taxi industry body said it may be willing to team up with ride-hailing firm Uber after its Hong Kong GM floated the idea of a partnership earlier this week, SCMP reports.

Kenneth She, Uber Hong Kong’s general manager, suggested a cooperation, saying, “Our door is always open. We are now studying whether there is room for Uber and the taxi industry to cooperate to jointly tap the e-hailing market,” he said.

“After all, the taxi industry may not have the technology platform like ours to provide tailor-made services. If we cooperate together, they can also make use of our backup customer service and even capitalise on our good image to regain consumer confidence as they are now having an image problem,” he added.

Vice-chairman of the Association of Taxi Industry Development Ng Kam Wah has now come back and said they welcomed the concept – with some caveats – despite protests from taxi drivers at the prospect of Uber facing looser rules.

“We think that there is room for the taxi trade to cooperate with Uber as this will be a win-win situation for us. The taxi industry could benefit from the ride-hailing platform, effective marketing and good customer image of Uber while Uber can operate legally with the taxi vehicles,” he said.

“Now Uber charges a certain percentage of drivers’ income. Our requirement is that if we cooperate, Uber can only charge additional fares from passengers, not from drivers. Our bottom line is that taxi drivers’ income will not be affected under this e-hailing platform,” he said.

In a report from late November, the Consumer Council proposed a very similar idea of taxi drivers joining the sharing economy, with relaxed regulation from government. The report also noted a number of complaints against taxis.

Uber said the company is more than “happy to collaborate with taxis. We believe that taxis and Uber can coexist together.” Similar systems already exist in Taiwan and Singapore.

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