Ferry run to Park Island may end
Christy Choi and Jennifer Cheng
Residents of the Park Island complex on Ma Wan Island have accused Sun Hung Kai Properties of being dishonest by reneging on its promise of convenient transport, which led many people to buy flats there.
They are concerned the community on the island, which is located between Lantau and Tsing Yi Island, will become more isolated after the developer said it was considering cutting one of two ferry routes.
The route concerned links Ma Wan to the Tsuen Wan pier - adjacent to Tsuen Wan West MTR station on the West Rail line.
'Once [Sun Hung Kai Properties] sold all the flats, they start removing transport. That's not what they promised in the beginning,' said William Lai Kam-hoo, the owners' committee chairman.
There are 5,500 flats on Park Island, and it is home to about 20,000 people - many with young families. It is marketed as a green space free of private cars, similar to Discovery Bay on Lantau.
The sixth and final phase of the Park Island development went on sale at the end of February and construction will be complete early next year.
The licence for the ferry route, operated since 2002 by Park Island Transport, a subsidiary of Sun Hung Kai Properties, which also owns the Park Island residential site, will expire on December 13.
A transport company spokeswoman said ferry patronage had been 'consistently very low' and the financial loss was 'substantial'.
She said the ferry was less than 20 per cent full during peak hours and only 10 per cent full during the rest of the day.
The licence was originally due to expire on December 13 last year, but was extended to allow the government more time to consult with the owners committee and the Tsuen Wan District Council about alternative proposals.
Park Island Transport proposed a replacement bus route using the Tsing Ma Bridge and is awaiting approval for it from the Transport Department.
The ferry takes 18 minutes and the full adult fare is HK$9.80. A bus would take 12 minutes and is tentatively priced at HK$9.80 for adult residents and HK$10 for visitors.
Park Island Transport also runs a ferry service between Park Island and Central, as well as five shuttle bus routes serving the Tsuen Wan MTR station on the Tsuen Wan line, Central, Tsing Yi, Kwai Fong and the airport.
The company's spokeswoman said fuel accounted for half of the ferry service's operating costs, and that ferries use 10 times as much fuel as a single-decker bus.
Switching to a bus service would 'maximise the efficiency of resources deployment and minimise environmental pollution', she said.
Tsuen Wan district councillor Justin Tseng Wen-tien said residents were concerned because the ferry service was the only option to get home when the Tsing Ma Bridge was closed during bad weather.
Residents also relied on the ferry to bring animals or large items to and from Park Island, as these were not allowed on buses, he said.
'The problem is Sun Hung Kai Properties has a monopoly of the island ... There needs to be public - not just franchised - transport to serve residents,' Tseng said.
The transport company has proposed running a scheduled van service to transport residents' bicycles, pets and large luggage.
A Transport Department spokesman said it considered the replacement bus service proposed for residents would make better use of resources.