Ride-hailing firm Uber has raised the minimum fares for all rides in Hong Kong by as much as 80 per cent from Monday after “an evaluation of the marketplace” and in response to its drivers’ calls for better income security.
The minimum fare for an UberX ride – the cheapest car option the company offers, and its most popular – in Kowloon and the New Territories rose from HK$25 to HK$40 after midnight on Monday.
And the company added a new HK$5 booking fee, which it said would help cover administrative costs, boosting the new flag fall to HK$45, or an 80 per cent jump.
The minimum charge for an UberX ride on Hong Kong Island has risen from HK$30 to HK$40. The new booking fee will also apply.
UberX uses smaller and economy car models at a lower rate, compared to the company’s luxury UberBlack line, which provides professional drivers and pricier cars.
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For UberBlack the new minimum fare is HK$60, up from HK$50, plus the HK$5 booking fee.
The new charging model for UberAssist, for which drivers are trained to provide additional assistance to elderly and disabled people, will be the same as that for UberX.
An Uber spokeswoman in Hong Kong said on Sunday that the move to raise fares was a result of a market evaluation. It was also a response to drivers’ calls for better income security.
Uber last adjusted fares in March last year when it cut the rates for UberX rides in Kowloon and the New Territories.
Since it began operations in the city in July 2014, the firm has faced hostility from the taxi trade and is still struggling in its fight for legalisation.
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In August 2015, seven Uber drivers were arrested for not having permits and driving without third-party insurance. Police also raided the company’s offices in Hong Kong after complaints from local taxi drivers. Two of the seven drivers were fined and had their licences suspended for one year in January last year.
In March this year, the remaining five Uber drivers who were convicted of driving without a permit and third-party insurance were fined HK$10,000 each and banned from driving for one year. All five appealed.
In a series of raids in May, Hong Kong police arrested 22 Uber drivers on suspicion of picking up passengers without a hire car permit and third-party insurance in the largest operation against Uber of its kind.