Struggling Star Ferry wants to increase fares

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 June, 2007, 12:00am

Star Ferry has asked the government for permission to increase fares on Hung Hom routes.

It cited losses on the Central-Tsim Sha Tsui route since the government moved the operations to a new pier in Central on November 12.

The company also warned of the possibility of another fare rise for the Central-Tsim Sha Tsui route after seeing a 15 per cent drop in passengers since operations from the new location began.

It wants to increase fares between Hung Hom and Central and Hung Hom and Wan Chai starting in January. If approved, an adult ticket will be HK$6 (HK$5.30 at present), and concession tickets for children aged three to 12 and disabled passengers will be HK$3.30 (HK$2.70 at present). Passengers aged 65 or above would continue to ride for free.

The ferry company also runs daily cross-harbour services between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central and Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai. Those fares will not be affected.

On the Tsim Sha Tsui-Wan Chai route, adults ride for HK$2.20, with concession fares HK$1.30. On the route to Central, adults ride for HK$2.20 on the upper deck and HK$1.70 on the lower deck. Concession tickets are priced at HK$1.30 and HK$1.20.

'We have lost HK$10 million on the Hung Hom routes since 1999,' Star Ferry general manager Johnny Leung Tak-hing said. 'In the past, we could use profits from the Central to Tsim Sha Tsui route to subsidise the Hung Hom route, but now we're seeing red on this route also.'

From January 1 to April 30, the company has lost HK$2 million on the Central to Tsim Sha Tsui route, Mr Leung said.

The Star Ferry pier in Central used to be near Edinburgh Place. The government moved operations to a new pier, which is a 10-minute walk from the old one.

A Transport Department's spokesman said: 'We will study the application carefully. We haven't made any decision yet.'

The decision would be based on five factors: the overall financial status of the ferry company, the quality of its performance, operation costs, passengers' affordability and acceptance, and whether the company has other means to improve its financial position.