Friday, 4 December 2015

Uber Takes Hong Kong Taxis for a Ride

Uber has added a cheaper service in Hong Kong to further compete with taxis
Ah... the fight between Uber and Hong Kong taxi drivers continues with the car-hailing mobile app launching UberX, its budget service where customers ride in smaller car models like the Toyota Prius and Honda Jazz for cheaper rates than the existing UberBlack service.

UberX starts at HK$10, with HK$6 for every kilometre travelled, and HK$1 for each minute of waiting while in transit. The minimum charge would be HK$30, making it more affordable the further you travel.

This comes as a welcome relief to commuters who are tired of dealing with taxi drivers who think they can get away with illegal and unprofessional behaviour.

During this past week, my colleagues and I had a lot of trouble trying to hail cabs to cross the harbour and either they flat out refused, or kicked up a big fuss.

Only persistence will get you where you want to go in a taxi
As soon as we sat down and closed the door and told the taxi driver where we wanted to go, he immediately said that he would not cross the harbour and would drop us off at a place where there would be cross-harbour taxis.

We complained and said our destination was very close to the cross harbour tunnel so why not take us? He then said that he would have to get off soon, but we again persuaded him that it wasn't too far.

Then he dropped the bomb -- that he would only go to the Western tunnel, as the toll costs a lot (HK$55). He hoped that this would be the deal breaker.

But we said that's fine -- our company is paying.

Defeated, he drove us to our destination without saying a word.

Does every time we get into a cab have to be this major effort to cajole the driver to take us? Isn't it their job to drive us to wherever we want and we pay for that service?

And what's with the entire city's fleet of taxis all stopping service at 4pm to change drivers? Why not stagger the changeovers?

With this new budget service, Uber in Hong Kong could really take off because it's making it affordable for EVERYONE to take it.

While expats probably love this service the most here because the drivers are polite, their cars are clean and it's easy to get a car on their phones, locals will probably soon catch on too.

There are some taxi drivers who are nice and enterprising, discounting rides with regular customers, but many have the perception that taxi drivers are rude, unkempt, can't speak English well and are difficult to deal with.

So the battle for customers continues between Hong Kong taxis and Uber.

We'll see who wins...

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