LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 961/96-97
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/PL/TP/1

LegCo Panel on Transport

Minutes of meeting held on
Friday, 24 January 1997, at 8:00 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Members absent :

    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon LAU Chin-shek
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon SIN Chung-kai

Public officers attending :

For Item III
Transport Branch
Acting Secretary for Transport
Miss Nancy LAW, JP
Deputy Secretary for Transport
Mr Isaac CHOW
Deputy Secretary for Transport
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport
Transport Department
Mrs Lily YAM, JP
Commissioner for Transport
Miss Zina WONG
Assistant Commissioner for Transport
Miss Regina YEUNG,
Chief Transport Officer

For Item IV
Transport Branch
Acting Secretary for Transport
Miss Nancy LAW, JP
Deputy Secretary for Transport
Mr Isaac CHOW
Deputy Secretary for Transport
Mr Allan CHOW
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport

Transport Department
Mrs Lily YAM, JP
Commissioner for Transport
Dr Ernest LEE, JP
Assistant Commissioner for Transport

Highways Department
Deputy Director
Mr Norman MAK
Chief Engineer
Electrical & Mechanical Services Department
Mr TONG Kin-wah
Assistant Director

Attendance by Invitation :

For Item III
Hong Kong Kowloon Taxi & Lorry Owners’ Association Ltd
Mr LEUNG Tat-chiu
Mr CHENG Hon-kwai

The Kowloon Taxi Owners Association Ltd
Mr YUM Tai-ping
Mr YIP Cheong-wah

United Friendship Taxi Owners & Drivers Association Ltd
Mr MO Huen
Mr LEE Chee-ming

Urban Taxi Drivers’ Association Joint Committee
Mr KWOK Chi-piu
Mr CHENG Man-kit

Urban Taxi Owners’ Association Limited
Mr LEUNG Siu-cheong

The Taxi Operators Association Ltd
Mr LAU Kam-wan

Taxi Dealers & Owners Association
Mr LAU Hau-ki

Taxi Drivers & Operators Association Ltd
Mr CHENG Yuk-kai
Mr SHING Wai-pong

Hong Kong Taxi Drivers’ Association
Mr YIP Yiu-lan
LO Kwan-kwong

Hong Kong Kowloon Taxi Drivers’ Association
Mr LEE Chi-cheung

The Joint Committee of Twelve New Territories Taxi Associations
Mr HUI Kwun-wah

Clerk in attendance:

Mrs Vivian KAM
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)2

Staff in attendance :

Mr Matthew LOO
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)4

Before starting the meeting, the Chairman advised that the agenda for the meeting had been revised as the Administration had requested deferral of the original item of "Tolls for Lantau Link" and replacing the item by "Taxi fare revision" on account of recommendations recently made by the Transport Advisory Committee (TAC) on the revised taxi fares. The Deputy Chairman expressed worries that time might not permit thorough discussion of the subject. In response, the Chairman suggested that both the questions and answers should be as concise as possible.

I Date of next meeting and items for discussion

(List of outstanding items for discussion)

2. For the next meeting on 21 February 1997, three items, namely, Tolls for Lantau Link, Territory-wide Bus Only Lane Focus Scheme, and Public Light Bus Policy Review, would be discussed. Arising from concerns raised by members of the Public Works Subcommittee at the meeting on 22 January 1997, the Panel agreed to include an item on the adequacy of directional signs on expressways in the Panel’s outstanding list of items for discussion.

(Post-meeting note: At the suggestion of the Administration, the item of "Territory-wide Bus Only Land Focus Scheme" would be replaced by the items of "Follow-up to taxi fare receipt" and "Lantau taxi boundary".)

3. The Chairman further advised that a meeting of the Western Corridor Railway (WCR) Subcommittee would be held after the Panel meeting, and that members of the Working Group on Overseas Study Tour would also meet immediately after the WCR Subcommittee meeting to examine the research materials and the itinerary.

II Information papers issued since last meeting


4. No information paper had been issued since the last meeting.

III Taxi fare revision

(Paper No. CB(1) 730/96-97(01) provided by the Administration

Paper No. CB(1) 730/96-97(02) provided by the Hong Kong and Kowloon Taxi Merchants’ Joint Committee Association Limited - Chinese only)

5. The Chairman advised that representatives from the taxi trade had been invited to the meeting to present their views on the subject. At the Chairman’s invitation, the deputations made their representations as follows:

Hong Kong Kowloon Taxi & Lorry Owners’ Association Limited

6. Mr LEUNG Tat-chiu advised that his Association, a member of the Hongkong and Kowloon Taxi Merchants’ Joint Committee, had applied to the Administration for taxi fare increase since mid-1996. During this period, the price of petrol had increased seven times and the trade had been seriously burdened with the increased operating costs. He added that rentor-owners would assist drivers by postponing taxi rental revision to provide for a transitional period.

The Kowloon Taxi Owners Association Limited

7. Mr YUM Tai-ping advised that the operating cost for taxi rentor-owners had escalated by more than 10% since the last fare increase in 1996; the increase in fuel charge during this period was around 12.9%. He urged the Legislative Council to endorse the fare increase application as soon as possible so as to bring the income of operators to a level closer to, although still below, their past income.

United Friendship Taxi Owners & Drivers Association Limited

8. In supplementing the above, Mr MO Huen pointed out that even additional income generated from the current application would not be sufficient to cover the increase in maintenance cost. Such expenses were essential in ensuring that taxis operated in safe and good conditions.

Urban Taxi Drivers’ Association Joint Committee

9. Mr KWOK Chi-piu objected to the proposed increase. He considered that further increase in taxi fare would deter patronage, the number of trips in the past ten years having already decreased from 40 to 20 per shift. The high increase in the price of diesel was the main burden on the trade but it would be inadvisable to cover this cost by fare increases. The Committee preferred maintaining the existing fare level with a view to attracting more passengers.

Urban Taxi Owners’ Association Limited

10. Mr LEUNG Siu-cheong supported the fare increase despite the fact that the rate of 6.5% recommended by TAC was lower than the 7.8% applied for by his Association on 13 August 1996. He also urged the Administration to advance the effective date of fare revision from April to February 1997 as any delay in fare increase would have serious impact on the trade. As the recommended rate of increase could not cover fully the increased operating cost, the Association would consider applying for another fare increase in 1997.

Taxi Operators Association Limited

11. In addition to factors outlined by other representatives, Mr LAU Kam-wan said that insurance fee had increased by 30%. He added that taxi fare in Hong Kong was low as compared with those in Shenzhen and other Asian cities, and advocated early implementation of the new fare scale.

Taxi Dealers & Owners Association

12. Mr LAU Hau-ki said that some rentee-drivers had left the trade due to poor operating conditions and uncertain financial viability. Some rentor-owners had already lowered taxi rental to attract most taxi drivers. He appealed to the Administration to control fuel price which was considered to be the key factor affecting the operation of the trade. He was supportive of the current fare increase application.

Taxi Drivers & Operators Association Limited

13. Mr CHENG Yuk-kai supported the fare increase application. He said that the average income of taxi drivers was around $800 per shift in 1996 and this would be increased to $850 following the recommended fare increase. Nevertheless, after deducting the estimated rental and fuel price increase of around $20 and $21 respectively, a taxi driver would only have a net income increase of $9 per shift in the current revision application. Such a level was far below the inflation rate.

Hong Kong Taxi Drivers’ Association Limited

14. In addition to supporting the fare increase application, Mr YIP Yiu-lun also urged the Administration to assist the trade by waiving the fuel tax for taxis. He also pointed out that free feeder-bus services transferring passengers between main shopping arcades and public housing estates had affected taxi business. As such, he suggested that the new taxi fare scale should be implemented as early as possible.

Hong Kong Kowloon Taxi Drivers’ Association Limited

15. Mr LEE Chi-cheung supported the recommended taxi fare increase.

The Joint Committee of Twelve New Territories Taxi Associations

16. In view of escalating operating costs, Mr HUI Kwun-wah fully supported the recommended fare increase. He supplemented that taxi drivers in the New Territories had maintained a good service quality and over-charging did not exist in the New Territories.

Discussion session

17. Hon CHAN Wing-chan advised that a deputation from the Motor Transport Workers General Union - Taxi Division had forwarded to him a proposal on taxi fare revision. In essence, they supported a fare increase and suggested reduction of the waiting time charges of $1.2 per minute to $1.2 per 50 seconds. The Commissioner for Transport (C for T) advised in response that the Administration had already examined this proposal but considered this inadvisable owing to the technical problems involved. Nevertheless, this suggestion was noted by the Administration.

18. A member pointed out that LegCo would have regard to the overall economy in Hong Kong when considering taxi fare increase. Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin said that the Democratic Party would consider the taxi fare increase in accordance with the financial viability of taxi operators and acceptability of citizens. He enquired if measures were in place to improve the service quality of the trade, since the number of complaints against the trade had increased by 19.5% from 4,000 to 5,000 last year. In response, the deputations reckoned that the recent proposal for taxi fare receipt was an example of improvement to service quality. They pointed out traffic congestion in Hong Kong was the main factor affecting the service quality of the trade. Furthermore, public acceptability of the fare revision had been taken into account when the trade made the fare increase application; the existing practice in seeking fare increase annually was aimed at keeping the rate of increase at a low and acceptable level. On the number of complaints against the trade, the deputations urged members to have regard to the number of substantiated complaints; they deemed it unfair to conclude that the service quality of the trade was low based solely on the number of complaints received. In response to some members, AC for T advised that taxi patronage was around 1.3 million passengers per day and this had remained fairly stable since 1994. The number of trips per shift bordered between 27 ad 28 from 1994 to 1996.

19. Some members observed that the premium for taxis had increased drastically in the past few years. They were worried about its effect on taxi fares and on the income of taxi drivers. A member also suggested that the Administration could assist the trade by renting out licences to operators and that consideration should be given to issuing licences on a regular basis. In response, C for T advised that taxi licences were generally regarded as an investment tool and there was no correlation between their premium and taxi fares; the level of taxi fare increase was dependent on such factors as fuel, maintenance cost and depreciation. This view was echoed by representatives from the trade. C for T and AC for T also affirmed that the Administration had carried out a comprehensive review on taxi licensing policy in 1994, consequent upon which a number of measures had been implemented to reduce speculation. Since 1991, 500 urban taxi licences and 100 New Territories taxi licences had been issued on an irregular basis, taking into account market demand and traffic conditions. The Administration would continue to review the situation regularly. C for T also emphasized that the Administration would have to balance the interests of the public and the operators when adopting different measures. In view of members’ concerns, the Chairman decided to follow up on the subject of taxi licences policy in a future meeting. The Acting Secretary for Transport undertook to provide members with an information paper on the subject to facilitate discussion.


20. Members agreed that the Administration could proceed with the necessary procedures for the current taxi fare revision, and that the subject would be considered further when the subsidiary legislation was tabled in LegCo. Meanwhile, the Administration undertook to provide members with the following information in the past five years with cross-referencing to taxi fare revisions:

  1. the relationship between increases in taxi licence premiums and fare increases;
  2. the rates of increase in fuel price revisions; and
  3. the overall increase in the number of residents’ services.

IV Follow-up to Government Monitoring Team for the Tsing Ma Control Area

(Paper No. CB(1) 730/96-97(03) provided by the Administration on 8 January 1997

Paper No. CB(1) 730/96-97(04) provided by the Administration on 22 January 1997)

21. The Chairman advised that members had been briefed at the meeting on 10 January 1997 on the staffing support of the Transport Department (TD) for the Government Monitoring Team (GMT). She invited representatives from the Highways Department (HyD) and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) to brief members on the proposed establishment under the two departments. The Deputy Director of Highways advised that the long span cable-supported bridges in the Tsing Ma Control Area (TMCA) contained far more components than ordinary bridges in Hong Kong and their structural behaviour was much more complicated. The proposed HyD team in the GMT, comprising 26 staff members including one Chief Engineer, was needed to monitor and verify the structural behaviour and maintenance of the bridges to ensure an uninterrupted route to the new Airport. Three sections (the Structures Section, the Highways Section and the Bridge Health Section) would be formed under the Team of which the Bridge Health Section would be most important to ensure that TMCA was properly maintained by the outgoing operator so that the incoming operator could take over the TMCA immediately. The Assistant Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services said that the team from EMSD would consist of an electronic group and an electrical and mechanical group, comprising two Senior Engineers and nine Inspectors of Works. Their main duties were to monitor the performance of the TMCA operator with regard to the operation and maintenance of the electrical and mechanical systems. They would also provide technical advice to TD and HyD on contractual penalties, conduct investigations into incidents due to equipment failure and approve operator’s proposals for parts replacement.

22. Owing to time constraint, the Panel decided to form a Subcommittee on TMCA for members to examine the staffing support of the GMT for TMCA thoroughly. The Chairman advised that the Clerk would issue a notice to invite membership for the Subcommittee; Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip, Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung and Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling indicated interest in joining.

(Post-meeting note: Hon CHAN Kam-lam also joined the Subcommittee which held the first meeting on 3 February 1997 at 2:30 p.m.)

V Any other business

23. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 9:20 a.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
26 February 1997

Last Updated on 22 August 1998