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The past and present of the white-plate car has been fighting with taxis for nearly a century


Since Hong Kong entered the era of motor vehicles, people have been eager for motor vehicles, and the rich will naturally buy them. People who can't buy it also want to ride this new thing. There is demand in the market, and smart businessmen will

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Author: Hong Kong Chinese Book Company

2020-09-23 13:09

Last update date: 2020-09-23 13:09

Since Hong Kong entered the era of motor vehicles, people have been eager for motor vehicles, and the rich will naturally buy them.

People who can't buy it also want to ride this new thing.

There is demand in the market, and smart businessmen will supply it to meet the demand for profit.

Therefore, vehicles that are different from taxis but also carry passengers and pay for compensation came into being (let's call them white-license vehicles).

As these vehicles cause frequent traffic accidents, the government has to legislate to regulate them.

(The following content is excerpted from "Hunting Dream Hong Kong: The Inheritance of the Taxi Industry")

In 1923, the authorities launched regular taxis with the intention of banning illegal private car passengers at the time.

However, due to regulatory restrictions, regular taxis often fail to meet the needs of passengers.

Passengers cannot find taxis during peak hours or in remote places, or passengers want cheaper or even more comfortable taxis. Regular taxis cannot take care of everything and meet all their needs.

Unregulated vehicles will take advantage of the loopholes, provide services for profit, compete with regular taxis, and cause endless disputes.

White-licensed cars are called differently in different periods-pheasant cars, public vehicles, red-licensed cars, taxis, Ubers, both legal and illegal.

The emergence of these vehicles often fills up the passenger demand that taxis cannot meet.

Even so, the unregulated or illegal passenger-carrying and remuneration services often cannot be resolved in accordance with the law in the event of an accident, which damages the interests of passengers.

On the one hand, the government sees that white-licensed cars can fill the gaps of regular taxis and does not want to fight it all; on the other hand, due to the strong pressure of the taxi industry and the impact of white-license accidents, it has to try to curb it.

However, because of not wholeheartedly, the policy was loose and sometimes tight, so that white-plate cars became popular and disappeared temporarily.

To this day, the government is still losing ground.

▼▼▼Click to see the precious taxi photos from different periods▼▼▼

Pheasant Car

As early as 1926, newspapers reported that "pheasant carts" were passenger vehicles that had to be parked and operated at designated locations and were not allowed to travel on the street.

It is reported that pheasant cars have always existed. They were very popular in the past. There are hundreds of them. These are ordinary private cars. They are cheaper than legal taxis and operate overnight. They can be parked at any time in the narrow streets and alleys.

Taxis used to reduce their fares to meet competition. In 1933, the meter fee for Kowloon taxis was reduced from five cents to four cents.

At the same time, the Kowloon taxi introduced a small car with only three people. The first mile charges three cents, the next two cents per mile, and the parking fee five cents every five minutes.

Hong Kong taxis also follow.

The pheasant car made it difficult to do legal taxi business. The taxi operator filed a complaint with the government for a strict ban. The police took action. When a pheasant car was driving customers on the street, they were arrested and prosecuted.

The number of pheasant carts dropped sharply for a period of time, to more than forty.

However, the mopping up did not completely stop the growth of pheasant carts. In 1927, the number of pheasant carts increased to 400.

At that time, most of the pheasant cars were a joint venture of two or three people to buy a car. One person received a license plate and took turns to pick up business on the street. They were picked up no matter how far or near. One yuan and two yuan business was also solicited. The car was beautifully arranged, and it was very similar to private cars Keep pace with each other.

In February 1930, the government promoted people to take buses, thinking that the pheasant car had lost its function and should be banned.

The appearance of the bus really made Liche obsolete.

In April 1930, the authorities took action to ban pheasant carts from parking during the day in busy locations.

In November 1931, the number of pheasant carts was reduced from 400 the year before to more than 100.

Despite repeated attacks by the government, the number of pheasant carts increased to more than 600 in 1935.

There were only 72 taxis on Hong Kong Island and more than 50 taxis in Kowloon.

In December 1946, the authorities stopped issuing license plates to pheasant vehicles, tricycles and handcarts.

On January 7, 1960, the "Overseas Chinese Daily" newspaper clipping reported that giant businessmen had given up operating New Territories taxis.

(Used with authorization from "Hunting Dream Hong Kong: The Inheritance of Taxi Industry")

Taxis, public vehicles, dual-purpose vehicles, New Territories taxis

The illegal business of white-licensed vehicles intensified in 1960, especially in the New Territories.

The population of the New Territories is increasing and there is an increasing demand for taxis. However, the Kowloon taxi majors are reluctant to pick up passengers in the New Territories and provide a golden opportunity for illegal licensed vehicles.

In January 1960, the Automobile Chamber of Commerce recommended that the issuance of taxi licenses should not be restricted in order to extinguish white-license vehicles.

In March 1960, the government issued several licenses for passenger-carrying vehicles in order to crack down on white-licensed vehicles, which can accommodate public vehicles with less than nine people. They are suitable for travel, schools, hotels, and dual-purpose vehicles for cargo and passengers.

The rented vehicles can only be rented out in the garage and not allowed to pick up business on the street.

The Commissioner of Police believes that the public will have more choices without having to ride in unlicensed cars.

These measures will alleviate the trouble of traffic hazards caused by illegal white-plate vehicles.

The most important aspect of the Road Traffic (Taxi and Rental Cars) Rules of 1960 is to increase the types of taxis in the New Territories. New Territories taxis must serve the New Territories and cannot operate across districts.

About 300 licenses were issued for the first batch of New Territories taxis. The market's response was not positive, and the bidding atmosphere was low. The remaining about 200 new licenses were also issued after a delay.

The first batch of New Territories taxis went into service on October 27 of the same year.

The authorities think that the introduction of New Territories taxis can put an end to white-licensed vehicles, but it is only wishful thinking.

The competition between New Territories taxis (especially nine-seater cars) and white-licensed cars is particularly fierce. In the early days, the main source of New Territories taxis was passengers travelling between Kowloon and the New Territories. The Jordan Road Pier was a stronghold for military experts.

Passengers take a boat from Hong Kong Island to the Jordan Road Ferry Pier, and can choose buses, taxis and white-licensed cars to Yuen Long and Tuen Mun.

In 1961, a number of New Territories taxi companies hired a group of employees with a monthly salary of more than 300 yuan. They competed with the then white-licensed cars at the main interchange stations.

These employees specialize in soliciting customers at the station. From 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., they wait for the ferry to dock and immediately pick up the guests: "Go to a mosquito bay in Yuen Long," and directly compete with the white-brand vehicles.

The police finally set off snakes to pull people and suppressed the white-licensed cars.

At that time, the police arrested the driver, the chaser, and even the passengers on the spot, and all of them were taken to the nearest police station or the Ministry of Transport for investigation. If the evidence was sufficient, they were prosecuted immediately.

This measure seems to have worked. In order to avoid being implicated, passengers will no longer take white-licensed vehicles, and white-licensed vehicles such as small cargo buses or private cars in the New Territories disappear for a while.

However, white-plate cars often come back from the dead, especially in the windy season, when public transportation is insufficient, white-plate cars will emerge.

Sometimes, the tide of taxi workers and taxi strikes will also cause the white-license cars to become active and take the opportunity to eat.

White-license cars are in constant rush. Even if the government greatly increases the number of taxis, they still have regular customers.

In 1964, white-licensed cars even charged monthly fees to pick up passengers to work regularly.

In addition to picking up and returning to work in the morning and evening, white-licensed cars also have holiday business, such as outings on the beach during holidays, and often even open near the funeral home.

There is heavy traffic on Nathan Road. You can see a popular taxi on the left and a red-licensed car in the middle, circa 1974.

(Provided by Mr. Zhang Shunguang) (Used with authorization from "Hunting Dream Hong Kong: The Inheritance of the Taxi Industry")

Red car

After the government stopped issuing licenses to pheasant vehicles in 1946, the number of taxis was obviously insufficient to meet the growing demand for passenger transport.

With the emergence of white-licensed cars, in addition to issuing additional taxi licenses, the authorities decided to issue a new taxi license in 1960, that is, red-licensed cars.

In order to avoid direct business disputes between red-licensed cars and taxis, the authorities stipulate that red-licensed cars must not be equipped with meters or roof lights, and they can only be called by phone, and they are not allowed on the street.

There were about 1,200 red-licensed cars in Hong Kong in March 1974.

The licensing conditions of the authorities reduce the living space of red-licensed cars, and red-licensed car dealers will not sit still.

Many red-licensed cars are touting passengers on the street, and some have changed their bodies to the same color as taxis to confuse passengers and compete with taxis.

However, because there is no meter, some unscrupulous drivers often charge "seafood prices" and overcharge their fares, which has caused many complaints.

Later, some operators installed their own parking meters, and simply played the flag to compete with taxis.

The police enforced the law to crack down on these illegal activities, but they were endless, and the taxi industry complained.

The authorities totally misjudged the red-licensed car, wishful thinking that the operator would obey the regulations and would provide alternative personal point-to-point transportation services other than taxis instead of directly competing with taxis.

The authorities underestimated the businessmen’s profit-seeking nature, not only exploiting loopholes in the law, but even breaking the law to seek the highest profits.

Like the pheasant car, the red-licensed car is illegally parked everywhere, pouring people everywhere, and incessant.

The authorities had no choice but to take deterrent actions. In July 1976, Commissioner of Transport McPherson disclosed that the authorities decided to ban red-licensed vehicles.

On August 18 of the same year, the government recommended that each red-licensed car be converted into a taxi at a premium of $75,000.

The authorities immediately submitted the amendment to the Road Ordinance to the Legislative Council for deliberation. The Legislative Council finally passed the amendment in June 1977 and implemented it on November 1 of the same year.

At the same time, the authorities have stepped up crackdowns on red-licensed cars. "Snake-offs" arrested drivers of red-licensed cars that violated the rules. The court also fined the offending drivers heavily, fined 250 yuan and revoked their driving license for three months.

White car

The government has decided to ban red-licensed vehicles. In addition to allowing red-licensed vehicles willing to pay $75,000 each to be converted into taxis, the same amendment also allows licensees who are unwilling to pay to convert red-licensed vehicles into contract taxis. Carry passengers for groups, institutions or schools in the form of contracts.

There is no difference between this type of taxi and a private car, and you can get a license by paying an annual license fee (500 yuan that year).

For this type of taxi license, in addition to red license holders, other private cars can also apply.

This measure has also been portrayed as the legalization of white-plate cars.

The red-licensed car dealers are going to continue the past business of the vehicles that have been converted into such taxis, that is, to travel on the street, and after picking up the guests, they will transmit the information of the guests to the central control room by radio, and then prepare the contract and transfer The itinerary is converted to an appointment to carry passengers.

After banning red-licensed cars, the remaining illegally operated vehicles are white-licensed cars.

Despite the government's repeated crackdowns, the number of white-licensed cars that year has never decreased.

From 1961 to 1974, the government has estimated that the number of white-licensed cars has increased from about 2,900 to 4,200 each year, reaching a peak of 4,500.

In order to avoid repeating the mistakes of red-licensed cars, in March 1978, the then Commissioner of Transport, McPherson, revealed that the government intends to tighten controls on illegal white-licensed cars. In addition to penalties for drivers, vehicles will also be impounded. Months, and another six months, the Transport Department may revoke the license.

Although the authorities have taken measures to further prevent the illegal operation of white-plate vehicles, they still cannot stop the operation of white-plate vehicles.

In 1981, Zhong Xin from the Department of Environment submitted the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill to further define the scope of taxi business, namely hotel taxis, tourist taxis, airport taxis, school taxis and supply taxis; vehicles only Able to operate contract rental and set off at designated locations.

The authorities not only tightened the licensing terms, but also set the licensing ceiling.

So far, only various types of taxis can legally carry passengers for private car owners. The law further stipulates that such vehicles must display the taxi license issued by the Transport Department on the passenger journey to facilitate police enforcement.

After strict regulation of legal white-licensed cars, illegal white-licensed cars have turned into silence for more than two decades, but they have not disappeared, but are just waiting for an opportunity to make a comeback.

▼▼▼Uber strives for legalization and once proposed to move its Asia Pacific headquarters to Hong Kong▼▼▼





On July 21, 2014, Uber announced its operation in Hong Kong. Passengers can use their mobile phones to summon private vehicles to travel.

Uber is a smartphone app developed by American businessmen. Users use the passenger version of APPs to order a taxi, and the driver uses the driver version of the APPs to verify and communicate directly with passengers.

Uber uses a customized program for pricing. Passengers pay by credit card. The driver waits for Uber to confirm after the trip is over before receiving the fare. Uber will deduct a handling fee (usually 30%) from the fare.

Uber does not own a vehicle. The driver uses his own vehicle to pick up passengers. The driver is responsible for all vehicle expenses.

Uber claims that it has a partnership with drivers and does not have an employment relationship.

Uber does not care about the driver’s background, especially the criminal record, the style or age of the vehicle, as long as the driver ensures that the cabin is clean and the passengers have no complaints, and it does not matter whether the vehicle has a legal rental license, it can carry passengers for compensation. .

Uber has heavily promoted the recruitment of drivers, claiming that the driver's income is considerable, with a monthly income of up to 70,000 yuan.

There are quite a few drivers registered.

However, most of the vehicles do not have passenger taxi permits, and illegal white-licensed cars have resurfaced. Taxi drivers complained that Ubers robbed them of passengers, and a battle for white-licensed taxis resumed.

Taxi groups have lodged complaints with the Transport and Housing Bureau, Legislative Council members, the Department of Justice, the police, and even the chief executive, requesting the government to strictly enforce the law to crack down on illegal white-licensed vehicles.

There are different opinions in society regarding the wave of illegal white-licensed vehicles driven by Uber.

Some members of the Legislative Council believe that Uber online car-hailing can provide citizens with one more choice. Its flexibility and personalized services are popular with citizens and the government should legalize it.

The Government has responded to the suggestions made by members of the Legislative Council in two aspects. One is to review the existing legal framework governing personal transportation services and simplify the application of private taxis; the other is to strengthen the crackdown on unlicensed vehicles.

In July 2018, Uber believed that the issuance of private taxi permits was still too strict and requested the government to amend the "Regulations" so that their driver partners can operate legally.

The government did not respond to Uber's request.

And more illegal drivers of white-licensed cars are being prosecuted. In most cases, the police only prosecutes for "driving a car for hire or as a reward for passengers," and the court only fines between 4,000 and 8,000 yuan.

Uber has stayed out of all cases and has never been prosecuted.


Unregulated and even illegal passenger-carrying activities have existed since the existence of motor vehicles, earlier than regular taxis or taxis. Because these vehicles cause chaos, the interests of passengers cannot be protected in the event of an accident. , The government has to manage.

Standardization time and time again, so that business people can compete on a fair platform, and also give passengers a choice.

However, the expectations of passengers are diverse, and those who do business will also dig their heads for profit.

After the standardization of pheasant cars, red-licensed cars and even white-licensed cars, white-licensed cars that had been silent for more than two decades were revived by Uber.

The reason for the existence of white-plate cars is that the regulated passenger service fails to provide or meet the expectations of some passengers.

These passengers may expect higher quality vehicles, more reliable and readily available drivers, or even better service attitudes; or cheaper services that can accommodate wheelchairs or vehicles with more than four people.

Therefore, the most effective way to deal with white-brand vehicles is to relax the regulations so that existing taxis and private taxis can provide diversified services to meet the expectations of all types of passengers.

If new types of passenger vehicles are added, the original order may be out of balance, and chaos and fighting will continue.

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Title: "Hunting Dream Hong Kong: The Inheritance of the Taxi Industry"

Author: Bear Yongda, Liu Guowei

[This article is reproduced with authorization from "Hong Kong Chinese Book Company".

Taxi white car Uber Hong Kong Chinese Bookstore

Source: hk1

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