Monday, January 21, 2008

Hong Kong Taxi: A short chat with the taxi driver

I just came back from a short business trip from Hong Kong last Saturday. Two of us went to Hong Kong and Shenzhen to visit the customers on this trip. After checking out from the hotel, we were deciding whether we should go to the airport by taxi or by the airport express train. The train fare is HKD90 one way per person from Kowloon station to the airport. The train takes 25 minutes to reach the airport. Before that, I have asked the concierge in the hotel about the taxi fare to the airport. The concierge told me that the taxi fare would come up to be around HKD300 plus. The Kowloon station is about 3km away from my hotel, so we still need to go there by taxi. At the end, we decided to take the taxi to go to the airport but I told my colleague that we cannot let the taxi driver knows our intention of going to the airport by taxi. Otherwise, we would lose the edge of bargaining the taxi fare. I told him that we have to wait for the taxi driver to make his offer and we could start to bargain. If the taxi driver did not make his offer, then we go to the airport by the airport express train. Sounds like a plan, isn’t it?

So, we hopped on a taxi from the hotel.

As expected, the taxi driver made his offer. The taxi driver offered to send us to the airport for HKD260. We counter-proposed HKD240 and he rejected. At the end, we settled for HKD250 and he agreed and he would also give us a receipt for the fare. The whole bargaining process only took less than 1 minute I beckoned. Sigh! Just HKD10 down from the original offer fare. What a bargain! What could HKD10 buy in Hong Kong?!

On the way to the airport, we had a quick chat with the taxi driver to find out more about being a taxi driver in Hong Kong. The following questions and answer are what I captured in my mind while talking to the taxi driver. By the way, the taxi driver who took us to the airport was Mr. Tang (See picture below).

Q: What shift is he normally on?
A: Mr. Tang normally works on morning shift. There are 3 shifts, i.e. morning, afternoon and night shift. Mr. Tang was going to knock off after he picks up some passengers to go to the city.

Q: Is he owned the taxi?
A: No, Mr. Tang told us that he cannot afford to. He needs HKD3~4 millions to have a taxi of his own. He disclosed that there is only a small amount of taxi drivers owned a taxi. The permit of driving a taxi costs at least HKD3 millions. The government would normally auctions off the permits. Most of time, majority of the permits would be snapped up by the rich business men or big consortium.

Q: How much does he paid to rent a taxi?
A: HKD340 per shift for morning shift. The rent for the night shift is a bit cheaper, HKD300 per shift.

Q: How much does he earned in a normal day, when he did not make any trip to the airport?
A: Around HKD800~HKD1000.

Q: How much does he earned in a normal day including one trip to the airport?
A: More than HKD1000.

Q: How many types of taxi in Hong Kong?
A: There are 3 types of taxi in Hong Kong which are grouped in 3 colors, i.e. red, green and blue. Mr. Tang is driving the red taxi. The red taxi is allowed to operate in Hong Kong island, Kowloon and New Territory area. The green taxi is only allowed to go around New Territory area and can send the passengers up to Kowloon Tong MTR station. The main operating territory for the blue taxi is around Tai Yu Shan area.

Q: What other cost does he needs to pay other than the rent?
A: The petrol but this taxi which he drives now is running on LPG and the speeding ticket if he ever gets one. The taxi company only covers for the maintenance of the taxi.

Some fast fact which you need to know before boarding a red taxi in Hong Kong.

First 2 km – HKD15.00
Every subsequent 0.2 km – HKD1.40
Every 1 minute of waiting – HKD1.40
Calling a cab in advance – HKD5.00
Storage for luggage – HKD5.00

The passenger is required to pay for the tunnel toll fare for 2 ways which normally costs HKD10 or HKD15 one way.

There is no 50% surcharge after midnight like the taxi in Malaysia.

The whole ride from the hotel to the airport took us only 25 minutes. Mr. Tang dropped us near the Cathay Pacific counters at the Terminal 1 and we bid goodbye to him.

Thanks for an informative and safe journey to the airport, Mr. Tang.


Karrent Chee February 13, 2008 at 5:17 PM  

Guess Mr Tang and Mr Tang had a great chat.
thanks for this post, quite informative for me as i will be going to HongKong soon.. :)

tango February 13, 2008 at 6:54 PM  

Haha...great to know that you visited my blog.

Enjoy your Hong Kong trip!

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