Taxis in Hong Kong, a timeline
A little more information on the history of taxis in Hong Kong to add to our other articles, on the subject, linked below.
Many thanks to SCT for proofreading the retyped version.
Taxis cars can be further classified into those that charged according to the meters and cars for hire which did not charge by mileage.
1922 From the 17th September 1922 on, the bus operator of the public buses business in Kowloon, namely, The Kowloon Motor Bus Co. Ltd., offered the four-seater zi yau hei che (free vehicle) with a red body and green edge for hire according to the meter.
The rate was forty cents for the first mile and ten cents for every fifteen minutes and thereafter the charge would be two cents a minute. If the red flag was up, that car was ready to take passengers. When the flag was down, it was serving clients.
1924 In early 1924, The Kowloon Motor Bus Co. set up a subsidiary at No. 26 Queen’s Road Central to serve clients on Hong Kong Island.
In June, the Government made the following rules for gai ching hei che (motor cabs) which were later renamed tak sze gap (taxicabs):
(1) A taximeter had to be installed in each cab;
(2) Every meter had to be sealed by the police and must not be damaged;
(3) The meter would charge at an initial charge of forty cents, then ten cents for every quarter mile and ten cents for every five minutes of waiting time.
It was then that the taxi business on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon was formally started, playing a different role from hire cars.
1925 At that time, taxis were known as tak sze gap, tak sze and the most frequently used name of dik sze, which resembles the sound of taxi. In 1925, Taxicab became a listed company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
At that time, there were many well known taxis, like the hung bin che (red stripe taxi) jointly operated by The Kowloon Motor Bus Co. Ltd. and Hong Kong and Shanghai Red Edge Car Company Limited and the wong bin che (yellow stripe taxi) jointly operated by Kowloon Motor Bus Co. Ltd. and Yellow Edge Car Company and the gam bin che (gold stripe taxi) operated by Tsang Yung’s Golden Edge Car Company Limited (Golden Edge Car Co. Ltd,).
Operating a taxi business at that time was by no means an easy job. High maintenance fees and zero revenue during maintenance periods were the main reasons for the closing down of businesses. Usually the taxis would then be leased to taxi drivers who became self-employed.
1928 Golden Edge Taxi Company Limited was established in 1928. In 1948, the company used a new model four-seater to run in Kowloon and the New Territories. There were also the two-passenger taxis and big six-seater taxis.
1931 From 1931 on, taxi meters were charging fifty cents a mile instead of forty cents after the initial charge but the original rate was restored after some time, until 1939, when the fare was increased again to fifty cents a mile. In December 1940, application for an increase was submitted and the rate rose to sixty cents.
1940 In 1940, there were the following taxi companies operating in Hong Kong: Central, Star, Shanghai and Yellow Taxi. Golden Edge Taxi Co. Ltd was operating in Kowloon. Taxis running in Kowloon were of two sizes. The smaller one was a three-seater.
The Japanese Occupation (1941-1945)
1942 On the 1st October 1942, The Hong Kong Jidosha Umsho Kaisha resumed its taxi business. The company had twenty taxis serving on Hong Kong Island and another twenty serving in Kowloon. Passengers had to telephone the company for service.
1944 Due to the shortage of petrol and appropriation of taxis by the authorities for military purposes, taxis became obsolete.
1950 In 1950, the following taxi companies existed: Central, Star, Shanghai and Yellow Taxi. In Kowloon there was Golden Edge Taxi, New Taxi, Tai Loy and Kowloon. There was also the Peak Taxi Company serving only visits to the Peak. There were altogether 344 taxis in Hong Kong.
1960 In the mid-sixties, the number of taxis soared to over 3,600, among which 250 were “New Territories taxis”.
“New Territories taxis” first appeared in the sixties. As there were nine seats, they were then called “nine-people vans”. During the strike in 1967, the traffic in Hong Kong and Kowloon came to a standstill. To ease the tension due to the shortage of public transport, the Government gave its silent consent to the operation of “New Territories taxis” doing business in the urban areas, which became legal in 1969.
1970 In the mid-seventies, the authorities issued licences to “New Territories taxis” with same terms terms and conditions as the other taxis, except the greyish green colour of the taxi body. The business of “New territories taxis” was extended to the New Territories.
1972 Since 1945, the taxi fare fare in Kowloon had always been cheaper than on Hong Kong Island. When the Cross Harbour Tunnel was finished in 1972, taxis fares were brought under one system and the different colours of taxis became one: red.
Source: Early Hong Kong Transport, Cheng Po Hung, University Museum and Art Gallery/The University of Hong Kong, 2009
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This article was first posted on 29th May 2022.
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