Hailing a Cab Gets Pricier as Hong Kong, Seoul Follow Beijing

Hong Kong and Seoul followed Beijing in increasing taxi fares for the first time in years after disgruntled cab drivers complained they weren’t getting paid enough to be hailed all day.

Starting Dec. 8, the base fare in Hong Kong island will rise for the first time since 2011, increasing by HK$2 ($0.26) to HK$22 for the first 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), the government said on its website yesterday. In Seoul, the base fare will rise by 600 won ($0.56) to 3,000 won, the first increase since 2009, though the starting date will be determined later, the city said in an e-mailed statement.

The cost of a Hong Kong taxi license surged to a record HK$7.66 million earlier this year, while Korean cab drivers last year were so dissatisfied with their incomes that they went on strike for the first time. In Beijing, it became so widespread for commuters to book cabs by offering more than the metered fare that the city government banned such smartphone apps, according to the China Daily.

Still, cab fares in Asia -- excluding Japan -- are typically less expensive than in other major cities around the world. Even after the increase, the minimum fares in Hong Kong and Seoul will be more than 20 percent cheaper than in London and about 60 percent cheaper than in Tokyo. Cabs in New York start at $2.50, though that only covers one-fifth of a mile.

In Hong Kong, the meter will add HK$1.60 for every 200 meters after the initial 2 kilometers from HK$1.50 now. Base fares and incremental charges will also rise by HK$2 and HK$0.10, respectively, for taxis in the New Territories and Lantau, according to the government statement. The price changes are still subject to approval from the Legislative Council next month.

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