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February, 2016

Back to school for Hong Kong taxi drivers: new training course aims to improve manners, improve service

A new training course for taxi drivers aims to improve standards of service and drive rude cabbies off the road. Upon completion of the four-hour course, drivers will receive a certificate and be recognised on a smartphone app to be launched in Ma.

The Hong Kong Taxi Council, formed in November to enhance quality of the industry, said the focus would be on improving customer service – an area of concern after official figures in August revealed a surge in complaints against taxi drivers who were rude and refused fares.

The lawmaker for the transport sector, Frankie Yick Chi-ming, said that unlike the 144-hour course offered by the Employees Retraining Board, which caters for newcomers, the scheme targeted those already in the business.

Yick said drivers who received unsatisfactory ratings on the app – which covers at least 500 taxis, or 3 per cent of the city’s cabs – would be asked to attend the four-hour course to improve standards.

The city’s taxi industry has been facing keen competition as car-hailing apps such as Uber gain popularity.

Sophia Chiu, a frequent taxi customer, welcomed the scheme.

“I think it is a good idea, as I have had bad experiences with taxi drivers who are rude and have poor driving skills,” she said.

“I think it will be good to have some form of guarantee, but if I were in a hurry I will take any taxi I can get in the new app.”

Yick also said that a trial course funded by people in the industry would encourage ethnic minorities to take up taxi driving. He said about 10 people had attended the course for some 30 hours and that recruiting ethnic minorities would help address manpower concerns in the industry.

Led by Polytechnic University transport expert Dr Hung Wing-tat, the council also revealed it had two new advisers – former police commissioner Tang King-shing and Dr Dorothy T. F. Chan, deputy director of administration and resources at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Professional and Continuing Education. It also had a new independent director – former Travel Industry Council chairman Michael Wu Siu-ieng.