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The Chinese name for taxi used in Hong Kong, dik si(的士), is a Cantonese transliteration of the English word "taxi". The earliest pioneer of the modern taxi service may have been Wu Zung (胡忠). In 1941, he is believed to have owned 40 taxis, including 10 white cards, which he leased to the government. When the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong began in December of the same year, he suspended his transport operation. He resumed his business after the war with 100 cars.
Prior to 1974, taxi liveries were chosen by licensees, with a proliferation of colours and mingling with private vehicles. On 13 September 1974, the government gazetted standard colours – silver for the upper half and red for the lower half – for all taxicabs in Hong Kong to weed out illegal taxis. From 1976 onwards, "ordinary" (red) taxis would be allowed to continue to operate in the New Territories as well as Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, while New Territories taxis – silver for the upper half and green for the lower would be forbidden from venturing into urban areas. A batch of 20 blue taxis serving Lantau Island started operating in 1983.
The majority of HK taxis (Toyota Coronas) are owned by 17 independent taxi companies that rent out taxis on a shift basis to 40,000 self-employed drivers.
As of 2017, there were 18,163 taxis in Hong Kong, of which 15,250 were urban taxis, 2,838 were New Territories taxis, and 75 were Lantau taxis. Every day they serve about 1.1 million, 207,900 and 1,400 people respectively.