PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 June, 2012, 12:00am


MTR already offers many concessions

We would like to thank Brittany Wong for her letter ('Split cost of flat-fare scheme', June 6), regarding the splitting of costs between taxpayers and transport operators of the flat-fare scheme.

The MTR provides various fare concessions and promotions for senior citizens, passengers with disabilities and Hong Kong students. These fare concessions and promotions, together with other offers, amounted to HK$1.7 billion last year.

Other than offering half-fare discounts for senior citizens, the MTR currently also offers a HK$2 flat fare promotion for senior citizens using an Elder Octopus on Wednesdays, Saturdays and public holidays, giving them more enjoyment when going out and about to participate in social and community activities.

It will continue to fund the HK$2 concession on these days from its own resources while the government's HK$2 flat fare scheme will cover the difference between the HK$2 fare and the applicable half-price fare on the other days.

The MTR is one of the very few public transport companies in Hong Kong that provides half-price fare discounts to eligible persons with disabilities which currently benefit some 92,000 disabled passengers. It will also continue to use its resources to cover the costs for a half-price concession after the government's HK$2 scheme is rolled out, so that the government subsidy will only cover the difference between the HK$2 fare and the applicable half price fare.

In addition, the corporation is paying all costs for the necessary technical changes and administrative arrangements to facilitate the roll-out of the government's HK$2 fare scheme on the MTR network.

Also, the MTR is the only public transport company in Hong Kong which offers half-price fare concessions for full-time Hong Kong students. About 570,000 students currently benefit.

The MTR strives to provide a high quality railway service that is good value for money and, at the same time, it offers a wide range of fare concessions and promotional schemes to benefit a wide range of passengers

Kendrew Wong, public relations manager - Media, MTR Corporation Ltd

Bank's rigid attitude made no sense

When my octogenarian father recently returned from Canada to live in Hong Kong, I took him to the neighbourhood branch of the Bank of China to open an account.

To make sure we had the required documents, I called beforehand. Aside from a Hong Kong identity card, he needed proof of a local address. He didn't have that but since he lives with me, I could provide my address and then present my birth certificate as evidence of our relationship.

Yet things didn't exactly work out. The branch manager rejected the birth certificate because though the Chinese characters of my father's name are identical to those on the ID card, my father's English name on the certificate was spelled differently.

I suggested that English translations of Chinese names were more fluid and arbitrary then than now but to no avail. So we had to go all the way to the office of the Home Affairs Department so that my father could swear - without proof - that he lives with me. After listening to our story and the problems we had encountered, the clerk at the counter said that we must have 'been to BOC'.

If I may draw an analogy, the bank is rejecting an old currency note just because it doesn't have a metallic strip or some of the latest security features. This is a naive and rigid attitude.

G. Hui, Sha Tin

Bus firms must get their act together

I agree with your correspondents who have complained about late buses in Hong Kong.

While there are routes where buses are plentiful, with passengers not having to wait more than two minutes before boarding, other routes provide a sub-standard service, with buses frequently being late, or worse, being cancelled without notice.

One perfect example of this is the 115 cross-harbour service between Sheung Wan and Kowloon City.

On many occasions I have waited more than half an hour for a bus, even though the stand clearly says the frequency is 10 to 15 minutes.

I often find myself forced to use other transport methods that are costlier and less convenient, not from impatience, but from simply losing faith in a bus even showing up.

On the other hand, much of the time I find myself stuck in heavy traffic, thanks to an abundance of empty buses.

Many of them are outdated and are clearly not fit to be on the road.

Many of these buses do nothing but clog up the city streets and belch out horrendous fumes, which I am convinced are a major contributor to the appalling roadside air pollution levels we've been suffering.

All of the above not only indicates a serious mismanagement of resources but, more importantly, a lack of consideration towards the Hong Kong public and the environment.

I sincerely hope the bus companies can get their act together, or face penalties imposed by the government.

Andrew Nunn, Stanley

Rich-poor gap is chief problem

Chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying has been selling us his political platform with housing as the main priority.

This may answer the concerns of many Hongkongers, but I see it as just another short-sighted political strategy aimed to appease people.

The real problem in the city is the rich-poor gap, which is a result of stalled social mobility.

Easing the pain of the younger generation struggling to own a flat is an expediency.

It matters, but it still fails to deal with the fundamental dilemma Hong Kong faces.

Education is key to making upward mobility possible.

Our education system is in a mess and radical reforms have not worked.

It is such a tragedy that we now have more university graduates but fewer capable people.

When I read leaked stories about who might be the next education secretary, I feel disappointed and discouraged. As I said, it is clear that, for C. Y. Leung, education is not a priority.

Wilson Lee, Ho Man Tin

Exams do serve useful purpose

I refer to the letter by John Yau Ho-cheung ('Exams being given too much weight', June 1).

Hong Kong's education system is exam-oriented. Exams still play an important role in measuring a student's ability.

I have no doubt that public exams impose a great deal of pressure on pupils. However, what I find even more disturbing is the school-based assessment which requires students to finish different tasks.

Take liberal studies as an example. Students have to finish an independent inquiry study project and this lasts for nearly three years. They have to spend most of their time doing research and writing while also preparing for the Diploma of Secondary Education exam. Many young people find this stressful.

I accept there are drawbacks to placing a great deal of emphasis on exams, but by learning to cope with the resulting pressure, young people can become more resilient when it comes to facing adversity.

The priority in the education system should be enabling students to achieve their potential.

If they are willing to face new challenges, then exams should not hinder their development.

William Chan Wai-chuen, Tai Wai

Water taxis pose risk to ferry firms

Some of Hong Kong's ferry firms are going through a difficult time economically.

I am concerned that the introduction of a proposed water taxi service in the harbour could do more harm to these operators.

Some of these ferries have been with us for many years. They are a part of the transport history of this city.

They are included in our collective memory. Therefore, I would not be in favour of water taxis being allowed a licence if, by doing so, they threaten our established ferry companies.

Siu Man-ting, Sha Tin

Why no official note for queen?

Could Hong Kong's government not have offered, on behalf of the people of Hong Kong, an official note of congratulations to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth?

The history of Hong Kong is entwined with the reign of this monarch and even after 1997, the links between Hong Kong and England remain.

Mark Peaker, The Peak