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21 August 2017

Uber forced to raise prices by up to 80% in Hong Kong

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

If you’re going to be hailing an Uber in Hong Kong — expect to pay a lot more, starting today.

The ride hailing giant has hiked its minimum fare in the territory by as much as 80 percent, a decision that came after an “evaluation of the marketplace.”

Uber announced that the price hike starting Monday would affect UberX, UberBlack and UberAssist services.

The company will also be introducing an additional booking fee of $0.64 (HK$5).

For UberX for example, the minimum fare from Kowloon to the New Territories would be raised from $3.20 (HK$25) to $5.11 (HK$40) — with the booking fee charge, that’s $5.75 (HK$45).

Though the numbers might sound small, it’s a proportionally huge increase of as much as 80 percent.

It’s also a move that will nudge Uber fares higher than taxis.

Taxis in Hong Kong charge a minimum fare of HK$24, which was previously comparable to Uber’s base of HK$25. Uber’s new base fare of HK$40 however, means local cabbies now have an advantage.

The ride hailing service had, after all, previously prided itself on being more affordable than a taxi in Hong Kong.

The revised prices also come as Uber endures an ongoing tussle with the powerful local taxi association, and pressure from the government, which still has not blessed it with legal status.

Just this year, police arrested at least 21 Uber drivers on suspicion of picking up passengers without a hire car permit and third-party insurance.

The city has an 18,000 strong cab force, and equally strong taxi associations, that have put pressure on local government to crack down on Uber — so perhaps the price increase will at least pacify cab drivers, for now.

Image: Favre/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

In a statement released on Sunday, Uber said that its adjustments were based on an “evaluation of the marketplace,” adding that the booking fee would help cover “administrative cost.”

“We are committed to continue our investment here in Hong Kong,” it said. “To ensure a seamless Uber experience for both riders and driver-partners.”

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