Hong Kong government plans to regulate ride-hailing services, including Uber

A licensing system might be put in place for online car-hailing

Catharina Cheung
Written by
Catharina Cheung
Section Editor
Hong Kong Uber taxi
Photograph: Shutterstock

In a move likely to affect services and companies such as Uber, the Hong Kong government has proposed a plan to regulate online ride-hailing platforms by requiring vehicles to obtain a licence before operating. The proposal also suggests increasing penalties for illegal ride-hailing services, such as impoundment of vehicles or withdrawing driver’s licences for a certain period of time. 

Uber has operated in Hong Kong since 2014 and has long been viewed as a threat by the city’s taxi industry, since the poor quality of service in taxis has driven more customers to ride-hailing apps over the years. According to Bloomberg, there are currently about 1,500 hire-car permits available for ride-hailing services in Hong Kong, with no government plans to increase this quota. Uber, which has been unregulated for a decade, has more than 10,000 drivers in operation. It remains to be seen how the government decides to control vehicles on our roads operating under ride-hailing services.

The Transport and Logistics Bureau will likely complete their legislative proposal next year, but before that, they will study passenger ride-hailing patterns and changing needs. While a regulatory framework is all well and good, if the government ends up imposing a cap of the number of licenced vehicles under each ride-hailing platform, then it will likely mean a rise in prices for consumers – as well as a blow to many of Hong Kong’s drivers who rely on ride-hailing for flexible income.

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