Accessible Living in Hong Kong

Kissing Transportation Rehabilitation Service
Kissing Transportation Rehabilitation Service

Wheelchair rehabilitation transport isn’t something you would necessarily think you’d need but when retiree Betty Liu sought out these services she found there was practically none in her City. Specifically, affordable ones and seeing most cars have difficulty fitting and providing transportation for wheelchairs users, taxis included, Liu decided this was her calling.

She founded Kissing Rehabilitation Service Limited, a WheelChair transportation service to provide more affordable options, to support those like her father, who was left paralysed after a stroke, to get around easier and safer.

For the past year protests in Hong Kong have morphed into broader anti-government demonstrations that have resulted in many violent clashes between protesters and the police. 

This devastating effect has not only divided the country as a whole but has piled pressure on existing economic strains. Tourists and citizens are avoiding the dangerous territories causing many businesses to struggle affecting the stock market and economy. With no end to the unrest in sight, it has pushed Hong Kong to the brink of the first recession in over a decade (CNBC, 2019).

Hong Kong is also one of the highest cost of living regions in the world, it is only getting more expensive. One of the constant issues for new businesses is to cover startup costs and a significant part of any income is then being used to pay rent. 

There will be over 2 million elderly people in Hong Kong over the next 10 years. This means the older population are having to work even harder to provide a living and look after their own welfare. The demand for wheelchair accessibility is growing and Liu hopes more will enter this market as the demands for her services pick up.

We caught up with Betty Liu to understand more about her unique services and what drives her business forward.

Interview kindly translated by Kat Wong

1.What inspired you to become a taxi driver for people with disabilities?

以前公公在中風時需要坐輪椅出入,但當時市面並未有相關服務提供,理解到坐輪椅人士出入的困難,所以在退休後考了相關的士牌,繼而駕駛的士並接觸了輪椅人士,以及接觸了提供傷殘人士服務的慈善機構及宿舍,漸漸的生意也增多了。

Our grandpa needed to use a wheelchair but there was a lack of wheelchair support services in the market, so I can understand the difficulties of wheelchair users. I got the taxi license after I retired, and started to provide services to wheelchair users. I have come into contact with different wheelchair services providers and halls, and my business has then started to grow.

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2. What made you decide to be self-employed? What was the process like?

在工作期間接觸了不少輪椅人士,有些人在金錢上有困難,但因為工作需要交租所以無法下降收費,為了幫助有需要人士所以也會每周選擇一天當義工,在朋友及乘客鼓勵下決定自己考牌,得到牌照之後的工作就不別受到其他人管制,可以幫助更多有需要的人。

I have kept in touch with many wheelchair users during work. Some of them are having financial difficulties but I am not able to lower the price due to the high rental fee. I have decided to pick one day in a week to be a volunteer. My friends and passengers have encouraged me to get my own taxi license, so that I don’t need to be controlled by others and able to help more people.

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3. How did you know there was an opportunity in the market for your type of business? Were/are there many competitors?

香港未來十年將有近二百多萬老人人口(50至70多歲的人),在這個少子化年代,年輕人口越來越少,所以需要靠自己。

希望在未來十年可以有更多人投身此行業,去幫助其他人。市場是非常需要這些服務。

There will be over 2 million elderly people in Hong Kong in the future decade. New generation being less means that we have to work hard for ourselves.

I hope more people will join our industry in the future 10 years to help each other.

The demand of our industry is very high.

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4. How has COVID-19 and the mass political protests affected your business?

肺炎及抗爭的影響是有的。牌照是在去年七月份取得,當時未有生意,需要自己填補支出,政府在短期內亦有資助我們的行業。

The COVID-19 and protesting in Hong Kong does currently affect my business. I obtained my license in July last year and I didn’t have any business at that time. I have to pay all the costs myself. However, the government has also supported our industry in the short term.

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5. What’s the most enjoyable part of your job and why?

本人很享受這份工作,每次接載客人的時候也會當成是與朋友約會。

特別個案有接載柏金遜病人的經歷,認識了更多關於柏金遜病的知識,如使用柏金遜病藥物半小時後使用者的精神會轉好,但藥力發作前半小時內身體情況是很難控制的,如痙攣或流口水。初次接觸時有點害怕,到達目的地後只好安慰病人並表示願意陪在身邊等待。後來這位病人也成為了我很好的朋友,這位朋友後來也有份幫助我申請的士出租許可證。這是我覺得很特別的經歷。

I enjoy my rehabilitation transport work very much. I always think my passengers are my friends.

There was a special case about travelling with Parkinson’s disease patient. I have learnt a lot about the disease afterwards.

Parkinson’s disease medicine is very effective but the side effect is unpredictable before the drug is taking effect, such as having a fit or drooling. I was afraid when I first met a gentleman with Parkinson’s disease, as I could only comfort and accompany him. However, we became friends after that trip, and he also helped me to obtain my taxi license. This was a very special experience for me.

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6. In Hong Kong, is self-employment/owning an independent business popular?

What is it like compared to people who are in full-time employment?

比全職工作更高彈性,可以做自己想做的事,每天起身也可以見到自己的朋友,幫助他們覺得很開心。若果是全職工作的話就無法如此自在地幫助人。現在的工作其實比全職更花精神和時間,因為是二十四小時的。病人需要在不同時間出入,工作可以是由早上六時工作至晚上十一時,中間會有休息時間,下午會比較忙因為要去看醫生。

Running a rehabilitation transport business is flexible compared with a full-time job. I can do what I love to do, and meet my friends every waking morning. I am happy to help them. If this is full-time employment I won’t be able to help others freely.

Self-employment takes more time and effort than a full-time employment, as it’s a 24 hours business. Patients need to travel at different times, it can be from 6am to 11pm. I might have a break in between. Usually people need us in the afternoon, as they doctor appointments.

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7. Do you have any advice or guidance for people starting up their own business?

要對自己想做的事充滿興趣,開心去做的話就可以成功。因為你喜歡那件事就會去研究他,從各方便去了解他,從而變成專家,並且在成功時會得到別人的認同及讚賞。所以要成功,首先要喜歡自己做的事,開心去做才可以成功,我不能說自己是很成功的人,但至少自己每天也是做着喜歡的事。

You have to be very interested in what you want to do and do it happily. Once you enjoy it you will study it and understand it, and become an expert. People will appreciate your professionalism. To be successful you have to firstly enjoy your job. I can’t say I am a very successful person yet, but at least I love what I am doing every day.

“To be successful you have to firstly enjoy your job. I can’t say I am a very successful person yet, but at least I love what I am doing every day.”

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8. How did you grow your rehabilitation transport business? How did you attract clients?

收支平衡很難,要多做宣傳,希望有更多人把車捐出來,讓了解老人院及傷健人士的我去管理。在我的計劃內希望更多人認識我公司,有錢出錢有力出力。

要得到其他人的信任,以個人的愛心去營運,用愛心去幫人。

Breaking even is hard. I have to promote myself. I hope people would donate their cars and let me manage them, as I am able to understand more about elderly homes and disabilities. My plan is to let the public know my company and the need for rehabilitation transport services.

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9. What has been the most challenging part of your job so far and how did you overcome it?

挑戰上面也說了,例如是柏金遜病患的例子,其實還有很多。最重要的是忍耐,如病人家屬惡劣的態度。但你也要理解家中有傷殘人士的照顧者要付出很大的愛心,他們情緒會很差,故此要忍受他們的態度。

As spoken before such as the Parkinson’s disease case, there are a lot more challenges. The patients are the most important thing. Patient’s families work very hard as carers and at times they can be bad mannered and rude to me as a rehabilitation transport driver, but I have to acknowledge and accept it.

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10. What future projects do you have planned?

如上述所說的,想幫助傷殘人士,香港以前並沒有太多這樣的的士,我並不是想有龐大的車隊,而是社會能為這些有需要的人建立社區,有醫院及康樂設施,讓五六十歲以上的人士申請居住。

地區內有醫院服務有需要人士的話,他們便不必跨區看診,到時候這些的士的需求不會太大,也可以減少城市汽車。

I hope to help wheelchair users as mentioned above. There are not a lot of these types of taxi services in Hong Kong.

I wish the society can develop a community for the people in need, with hospitals and recreation facilities. So, elderly residents can apply to living in it.

If there are hospital services in the area for the people in need, then they don’t need to travel far for a doctor, and hence the demand for taxis will decrease and there will be fewer cars in our city.

You can connect with Kissing Transportation Services:

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Credits

Photo by Victoria

Interview conducted by Anthea Wong

Translated by Kat Wong

By Becky Liu

An avid explorer, learner and adventure finder. Becky's favourite thing in the world is learning. She also loves blogging as it's her safe place to document and explore thoughts, dreams and ideas. Spends most of her days daydreaming, creating, internetting. Current important things to her: art and design thingies, experiencing new stuff and learning more about people and the world we live in.