A taxi-hailing app has launched a new, more affordable service in Hong Kong featuring lower rates that pose stiff competition to local taxi rates.
On Friday, Uber announced the launch of their new service, uberX, featuring “everyday cars for everyday use.” The line provides access to smaller vehicle types, such as Toyota Prius and Honda Jazz, at lower prices than Uber’s other offerings.
The base fare for uberX is HK$10 with an additional HK$6 per kilometre, and the minimum fare has been brought down to HK$30. This is comparable to the rates of urban taxis in Hong Kong which have a HK$22 base fare with an additional HK$1.6 for every 200 metres.
“The transport sector in Hong Kong has lots of opportunity and multiple players. Hong Kong is always looking for better and more [transportation] options,” Uber spokesperson Harold Li told HKFP.
On how the new service would compete with local taxis, he said, “I don’t want to make a direct comparison. It’s a situational thing. Sometimes one wants to have a ride waiting downstairs when others are less available. There are multiple forms of transportation in Hong Kong and it’s good to have more options.”
The launch comes after Uber ran into legal problems in Hong Kong earlier this year. In August, police raided Uber’s Hong Kong office on charges of operating illegal hire car services.
Mobile car hire services such as US-based Uber, the locally born GoGo Van and other unlicensed car-hire services have faced heavy criticism and protest from Hong Kong taxi drivers for skirting the law and creating what they claim to be “unfair competition.” Taxi drivers associations have claimed a 20 percent drop in business due to the rise of unlicensed alternatives and have called on the government to better regulate the for-hire car industry.
Following complaints of its own unsatisfactory services, the taxi industry in Hong Kong recently launched its own taxi-hailing service app with a customer rating function, and they also established a new council aimed at improving self-regulation and the quality of its services.