HK: Taxi discount party, and why I would vote for long hair

The free sheet in HK provides more than what I have expected. e.g. am730 has a pretty good column: Centralblogger. On Apr 10 a vivid case of Happy Discount Taxi Driver was discussed (cannot find the permalink, you have to search by title "快樂的八折的士司機" or date, or at am730 apr/11 pp13)

It dissects how the discount party works
  • A core group called "the centre" takes order (each driver will hand out phone numbers to passengers, to reach the centre), which comprises of about 10 people
  • The second line of the party pays about 30-90 per day to the centre, and the centre will direct order to these drivers. This fee is quite significant, considering the daily revenue of the driver is perhaps a couple thousands. It means the extra revenue the drivers collect must be sizable, if they are willing to give 20% discount and pay the 'centre fee' on top. (For taxi driver economics, where utilization is a key issue, see the Shanghai Case Study, which won the Simon Award)
  • A natural question for the centre is: what is the optimum number of 2nd line members. They need certain guaranteed volume to justify the fees (and incentives for these drivers to direct traffic to the call centre; willing to take call order once committed, and not setting up their own call centres). The 'centre' limited the party size to ensure volume and utilization.
  • After this is taken care of, a second question arised. How to make sure the passengers are happy? Here comes an ingenius solution. Recruit a peripheral 3rd line members, who do not have to pay for the referral. All they need to do is take the business and honor the commitment (to pick up passengers).
Chairman Mao said, "The eyes of the mass are clear as snow". In this case, business solution emerges from the "mass". Such innovations are more frequently found in a free economy (and that intense competition leads to ingeneous solutions), where everyone is empower to innovate. Unfortunately (and fortunately) it was Deng, not Mao, who got the essence of this line. The problems and complains in the local taxi industry originate from the greedy government policy, which tries to apply its de facto tax on real estate to the taxi licenses as well. IMO the problems are not too serious, as HK people still enjoy one of the most affordable taxi fleets in the world.

Digression: there are other ingeneous solution in mainland China.
  • "The Chinese Taxi Model: The innovation is to ask the passenger to switch to a car coming from the opposite direction around the mid-point of the path, so that both vehicles only have to drive half the distance and can return with full load of passenger as well. This way both vehicles can save fuel costs, time, depreciation and even toll by halving the mileage, and part of the savings given back to the passenger via a price discount"

How much is the minimum charge if you catch a taxi on Lantau Island? NT?

This is one of the questions (replicated on the same blog) from a quiz from HK Magazine . It conducted a quiz for a few Legco members on the Apr 7 issue. A Chinese summary can be found here.

Long Hair (Leung Kwok Hung) emerged as the champion, even though a few of the questions are expat-Bourgeois only (Frappaccino, Soho restaurant and Mr. Aaaah-Aaaww). Frankly, I know who Mr Aaahh-aaawww is but cannot make the connect with the way the question was asked. So Leung actually scored 7 out of a total of 9 "relevant" questions. A few of them are actually what has been debated in the Legco, I wonder where these big-shot have gone during the meetings.

Bottom scorers: Emily Lau(3), Cheung Yu Yan (3), Martin Lee (2).

This quiz does not mean much. But it shows how ideology has overshadowed common sense in HK politics as well. This is why I would vote for long hair.

1 comment:

Sun Bin said...

Long Hair is actually a very good writer. He is a lot better than some of the so called Cai-zi (才子)see for example.