Doris Leung: The motor and the spirit behind Diamond Cab
Once upon a time lived a happy Hong Kong family. There was a Mom a Dad and three kids: Two sons and one daughter named Doris, in the middle. Both her parents worked at their pork shop in a wet market in Lok Fu near Wong Tai Sin. Years passed by and the family grew older and happier. Eventually, the sons married and moved out, while Doris, the daughter continued living with her parents.
Pic 1: Young Mom n Doris
One ill-fated day in the summer of 2006 under the bluest of skies, Doris’ mother fainted. A CT scan showed a malignant brain tumor. Shortly after, the mother stopped working at pork shop.
Thankfully Doris’s office was close by and her bosses understanding. Slowly but surely, Doris’s life began revolving around her work and driving her mother in her small red car to doctors’ appointments mainly to the Queen Elizabeth public hospital in Kowloon.
“That 2007 CNY was terrible. I realized that mother needed a wheel chair to be mobile,” Doris recollects. Doris made use of her little red car to transport mum in wheelchair which was folded and placed at the back so that she could drive her to her appointments.
When Doris could not drive her mom, her dad tried once to take her mom in make-do illegal vehicles originally designed for transporting chicken and poultry! Doris was appalled and sickened! She also couldn’t stop thinking about how her beloved mother must be feeling in such a car…like a cargo or a commodity, definitely not a human!
Pic 2: Illegal taxi
Doris started thinking about how important was it to help wheelchaired patients to have a barrier free journey so linked to their quality of life but also their dignity. “Because when the dignity is effected the patient loses the will to live”, Doris remarks.
The need of a taxi service dedicated to helping transport wheelchaired patients, keeping in mind their self-esteem had taken seed within her mind.
Diamond Cab service launched in Feb, 2011, as a private enterprise offering point-to-point transportation services for wheelchair users.
Pic 3: Diamond cab with a passenger
“Mom was the 1st passenger to try the Diamond Cab! Those were happy days.”, remembers Doris with a big smile.
The start of Diamond Cab was not without challenges. First was the Diamond cab business model.
Only renting the cabs to drivers, the same as traditional taxi companies, made very limited regular income because the number of cab fleet is limited to 5 only in planning. However, in order to provide the best caring service, they have basic administration cost to set up an office and 24hrs call center to fully support the drivers and customers. Diamond Cab had to search for regular non-rental income like corporate sponsorship and cab advertising to sustain itself in long run.
And starting from zero, Diamond Cab had to hire the million dollars valued cab licenses to kick start the business and since the margin of the rent is very little for the license owners, it took about a year to search for the owners who are willing to support in long run!!
Perseverance pays! After many pitches to license holders and as many failures, thanks to the contacts of her team, they received a very important support from Tai Wo, which is the largest taxi company in HK- license owner company. Doris recollects vividly, “Tai Wo boss Mr. Ng said he loved the idea, they were running conventional taxis so knew that he could help but said he wasn’t sure how!” They got alongside Doris in the Project.
Next big challenge was to have a car manufacturer agree to export a very limited number of 5 taxis only which were wheelchair accessible. Together with Tai Wo, Doris got in touch with Crown Motors, the sole agent of Toyota in HK to import the welcabs and transforming as barrier-free taxis with new color in red, meter and light box, totally aligned with laws of HK. Crown Motor’s boss was more than convinced about the social impact of the project. He was passionate!! Crown team spoke to Toyota and worked closely together for over a year. Doris and her team’s hard work and perseverance paid off. 5 extraordinary taxis were imported to HK finally in Dec 2010!!
The golden period of Diamond Cab lasted from 2011 to 2015.
Doris started keeping unwell from 2016 onwards. Then came a news that Doris was afraid of…History was repeating itself!! Doris was diagnosed with a malignant breast cancer in late 2017. She once stopped her job as a journalist in 2009. Doris didn’t feel she could take care of Diamond Cab anymore and wanted to focus on her health so she handed to reigns of Diamond Cabs to the major shareholder which arranged an Acting CEO to replace Doris.
“Little did I know that, down a few years, I would be another client of Diamond Cab”, Doris says with her trademark smile.
Pic 4: pic with Doris’ good friends who cared and supported her with all bald heads for photo shooting during cancer treatment
For Doris the fighter, the fight continued. First for her mother. Then struggle to launch Diamond Cab. Then her own Cancer. And she emerged victorious once again thanks to her will of steel. In Mid 2019, Doris came back to the helm of Diamond Cab again after finishing 18 months cancer treatment.
As of mid-2020, Diamond Cab fleet was of 4 taxis and 1 hire car. They have successfully completed over 160,000 barrier-free trips, transporting in comfort and total safety, passengers with different backgrounds and medical conditions.
Doris has recently launched under the Diamond Cab Foundation a program called “Community Ride Crowd Donation” for the financially weak. Under this scheme and as a mark of support to the small to medium private elderly homes, If there is a need for wheelchair accessible transportation mainly for medical appointments, general public can chip in and contribute to the travel expenses, Diamond Cab and the two barrier-free operator partners will pick them up in all comfort in a wheelchair friendly vehicles. For those who wish to know more and donate, the donation link is https://forms.gle/PaDWEzojgVfWuXNs5
Pic 5: Happy aged people in front of Diamond Cab
As Doris puts it “Challenges are bigger now but so is the motivation to make things work.”
Diamond Cab office website: www.diamondcab.com.hk
Diamond Cab facebook page: Diamond Cab