Setback for Octopus Card Trial in Taxis in HK
Plans to extend Octopus card services to taxis have suffered a major setback, with eight of the 20 green cabs that joined a trial scheme having withdrawn in Hong Kong.
The 20 New Territories taxis, owned by the Yellow Taxi Group, agreed to install the system in June. It marked a breakthrough after 10 years of negotiations between the Octopus card operator and the taxi industry.
But the taxi-rental group's managing director, Wong Yu-ting, said only 12 now remained.
He said the Octopus card company said the system would be upgraded in October to allow automatic account updating, sparing drivers the trouble of returning to the office every day. But now drivers have to wait for at least two more months.
Wong said technical problems are not the only reason for taxi drivers dropping out of the program.
He stressed they have been trying to convince restaurants and retailers to offer discounts to Octopus taxi passengers, but the Transport Department has been a major obstacle.
Wong said the move would not only benefit passengers, but would bring more income to drivers as retailers and restaurants might offer them rebates for bringing them more business.
But the Transport Department, which supports Octopus payments in taxis, does not agree with the discount approach and is worried about the legal implications.