HK taxi driver arrested for overcharging during ‘Golden Week’ break

Police have arrested one taxi driver for overcharging and issued 21 tickets for other violations including failing to using a fare indicator over the “golden week” holiday.

The prosecutions were made in Tsim Sha Tsui by officers from the West Kowloon Regional Traffic Department and the Yau Tsim Police District under an operation to combat overcharging and refusing passengers, according to a police statement issued Sunday night.

Hong Kong police warn tourists about taxi service violations during the 2024 May 1 golden week. Photo: Hong Kong Police Force.

“The Police have reiterated that the operation is still on-going and will continue to take decisive enforcement action against the taxi offences to protect the interests of the public and tourists,” the statement read.

Taxi offences

The operation took place over “golden week,” a five-day holiday that traditionally sees mainland Chinese tourists flock to Hong Kong.

During the operation, officers masqueraded as passengers travelling from from Tsim Sha Tsui to Lantau Island. Upon arrival, the driver overcharged the officers by about double the fare, the force alleged.

See also: Plans for 500-strong Hong Kong taxi driver strike over Uber thwarted after carpark operator refuses to offer venue

The 43-year-old driver was arrested on suspicion of overcharging a passenger, failing to display a fare indicator, and failing to display a driver identity plate. He has been released on bail and is due to report to the police late this month.

Taxis in Causeway Bay. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The police also issued tickets to 21 other taxi drivers for failing to display a fare indicator and their identity plate, according to the statement.

Officers distributed leaflets and asked passengers at various tourist hotspots and taxi stands in Tsim Sha Tsui whether they had been overcharged.

“If a taxi offence is initially detected, the information of the taxi driver and passengers concerned will be recorded for further investigation and prosecution,” the statement read.

By law, the maximum penalty for overcharging is six months’ imprisonment and a fine of HK$10,000 upon conviction. Two drivers were jailed for up to two months last week for overcharging passengers.

taxi ambassador schemetaxi ambassador scheme
A photo shows a “taxi ambassador” scheme initiated by Hong Kong police aiming to help taxi passengers, on April 3, 2024. Photo: Hong Kong Police Force.

“Members of the public and tourists are advised to take note of the time, location, licence plate, driver’s name and route of any taxi offence and report it to the police,” the statement said.

The police said last month it will roll out a new scheme to crack down on taxi service violations with “taxi ambassadors” standing by taxi stations to assist passengers by marking down the taxi’s license plate, the destination, and estimated fare.

The taxi industry proposed in January raising the flagfall for taxis, citing rising costs and competition from ride-hailing services, which remain illegal without a permit.

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