26th September 2013
Over 50 Taxis Sit in Carpark Gathering Dust
Property developers have long been accused of hoarding up residential units to push up property prices. On the other hand, owners of Red taxis for which worth as much as a 600 sq. ft. flat in Tai Koo Shing are allegedly doing the same trick. Over 50 taxis were found parked in government public car parks throughout the day, and more than 50% of these taxis have valid vehicle licenses on their windscreens. However, these taxis are all covered with a thick layer of dust and some of them have flat tiers. Sources in the industry said that this has been happening for years, and believe that this is an attempt to create the illusion of taxi shortage in order to push up the taxi rental and taxi license prices. Chung Shing Taxi Limited, which owns around a dozen of taxis in this car park denied that it has been hoarding up taxis and said that the taxis were parked there because the drivers called in sick.
A industry source said that what was seen at that car park is only a tip of the iceberg, “some taxi companies have been found parking over 600 taxis in the rural areas for a long period of time. They started to be more discrete afterward being exposed, and park their taxis in remote container yards or scrap yards, and cover them with sheets to stop people from finding out.”
After visiting multiple government run public car parks in Yao Ma Tei, Tsim Sha Tsui and Wong Tai Sin after midday on both 18th and 19th September, 48 taxis with valid vehicle licenses were found parked in there. On 20th September, during the second round of visit, all of these taxis were still parked in the same spots.
In the Yau Ma Tei car park, 19 taxis were parked between level 1 and level 5. Three of the 12 taxis parked on level 3 have valid vehicle licenses on their windscreens. One of these taxis has one of its tires gone completely flat.
Similar situation is also found in the Tsim Sha Tsui car park with 19 taxis parked there and 15 of them were covered with a thick layer of dust. On the other hand, 10 taxis were found parked in a Wong Tai Sin car park. With each taxi license costs around US$900,000, the total market price of the 25 idle taxis that were covered with thick layer of dust is over US$21 million!
According to the Transportation Department, ten of the idle taxis found are owned by Chung Shing Taxi Limited, a leading taxi company, and companies and individuals related to Chung Shing.
A number of the people in the industry claimed that many big taxi companies have been hoarding up taxis for years. Government run public car parks charge no more than US$65 a month making it cheap for taxi companies to leave them idle, “although taxi companies will make US$1300 to US$2500 less a month, when the illusion of a taxi shortage is created which pushes the taxi rental price up, income will be boosted and license price will go even higher!”
Cheng Hak-wo, Chairman of the Taxi Dealers and Owners Association, refused to disclose how many taxis his company owns but denied that taxi companies hoard up taxis and said the accusation is unfair, “we manage many taxis. It is normal for taxi drivers to take days off, and taxis require maintenance too. It only day a couple days for the taxis to gathered dust if parked in a car park.”
“Taxi owners want to make sure that the front line drivers can make a living.” He also said that the taxi fare is too low, “if a few people share a cab, it probably would be cheaper than taking the bus.” He also said that with an increase of fare, drivers can make more money “Higher quality service, higher charges. Drivers can drive for lesser hours and feel more comfortable, so they can provide better service. Although taxi owners get return from leasing the vehicles to drivers, drivers always take the larger portion compare to the owners.”