New fares for some
Parent groups are angry that their disabled children younger than 12 will not benefit from a new scheme providing HK$2 concession rides on trains, buses and ferries.
Starting next month, everyone over 65, and severely disabled people aged 12 to 64 who receive a disability allowance, will be eligible for the low fare on transport any day of the week using Octopus cards.
The HK$400 million flat-fare scheme will benefit about 1.1 million people, but does not cover the few thousand disabled children under 12.
Ho Po-jing, vice-chairperson of the Association for Parents of Persons with Physical Disabilities, says this group still has to pay half fares for rides, which often comes to more than HK$2.
According to media reports, a spokesperson for the Labour and Welfare Department said children under the age of 12 already enjoy concessionary prices for rides, and if needed, they can apply for a subsidy from the Student Financial Assistance Agency and take the Rehabus.
But Ho argues that not everyone can benefit from the student travel subsidy, and that only those aged 12 to 64 are eligible for the HK$225 monthly disability subsidy.
She criticised the government for neglecting the younger children, and urged it to extend the coverage of the concessionary fare scheme.
Ho also said disabled children aged 12 and above may get double benefits, as neither the Labour and Welfare Department nor the Education Bureau have plans to scrap subsidies at the moment.
The flat fare will be implemented in phases, starting with the MTR next month. Four of the five bus companies will join in September, followed by the New Lantau Bus Company and ferry operators early next year. The Legislative Council will discuss approving funding for the scheme on June 8.