PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2007, 12:00am

What benefits do you expect from the MTR-KCR merger?

The merger of the MTR and KCR operations has finally been completed.

For a small city such as Hong Kong, it had been argued that it would be difficult to maintain two rail operations. In order to make the railway system more effective, a merger was felt to be the only option.

I do think it will make travelling by rail easier or more efficient. There will now be no need to change between different operators. Also, some of the existing stations will be changed slightly, to make the design of the place more amenable to users.

In the long term, I think it will make travelling on the system cheaper, with a more streamlined operation of the rail network. The MTR Corporation faces the task of turning the West Rail Line into a profitable operation.

With the economic upturn and the unveiling of more development projects, this is still possible.

The lack of competition, through two operations merging, can be offset by introducing competition among the various rail lines, by setting targets. The MTR can refer to the London Underground to see how that is done.

I think the merger is an important strategy on the part of the MTR Corp and it will make the city more efficient.

H.C. Bee, Ho Man Tin

I expect that fares will be cut by at least 10 per cent on long and short routes, following the merger and there will be more student half fares.

However, I am disappointed that for most residents in Tin Shui Wai, known as the 'city of sadness', it will still be expensive to travel to other parts of the city.

I hope MTR Corp will look at this case and reduce fares on these long routes.

Because fares are still expensive for Tin Shui Wai residents, they are reluctant to travel to other parts of the city. This is the main reason they feel so isolated.

In fact, because of the cancellation of the interchange discount, these residents will end up paying more.

It is also unfair that students in Kowloon can receive a half fare, while students in the New Territories cannot, if they are on the former KCR network. Many students still have to pay high fares to get to and from their colleges.

I really hope that the new enlarged MTR Corp will not just focus on money, but also think about the needs of the city's residents when deciding what fare levels to set.

Ng Chun-fai, Mong Kok

Although some passengers have benefited from the merger of the MTR and KCR operations, not everyone has enjoyed discounted fares. And some people will still travel by minibus, because they do not want to have to change trains.

The merger will make the railway network more efficient, with the limitation of service overlaps. I also think there will be savings in administrative costs. Passengers will benefit from the merger.

Karman Chong ka-man, Yuen Long

Will you be upgrading for digital TV?

Digital terrestrial television will be available to 50 per cent of the population, at the end of the month.

However, although I know more people will buy high-definition sets in the city, I do not think I will switch to digital TV for a couple of years.

At the moment they are still expensive, but as more people buy them, the price will eventually go down and then I will probably buy a high-definition set.

I appreciate that having a high-definition set has many advantages. The picture quality is better and you have wider choice of channels.

However, the downside is that as more people buy new TVs, they will throw out their old ones and this will create a lot more refuse, which is not environmentally friendly.

Also, many families with low incomes will not be able to afford the high-definition sets and will not, therefore, have access to the new channels.

Jenny So, Lam Tin

What is the biggest challenge facing your family?

Nowadays, everyone is facing many challenges, for example, at work, in family relationships and in their studies.

Every member of a family has issues that they have to address.

Young people worry about their schoolwork, while their parents have concerns to do with the workplace.

When the tension gets too much, it can cause domestic conflict.

For many employees in the city, the main concern is the long hours they work. Heavy workloads mean they have less time to spend with friends and relatives and it is very difficult to strike the right balance.

Sometimes you have to make sacrifices and be willing to earn less so you can spend more time with your family.

I think one solution is for people to get permission from their employer to take some work home and do it there.

I am glad that my family does not have to deal with too many of these challenges. We have all that we need in terms of basic necessities. My parents do shift work, so we do not see each other every day.

However, this means that we cherish the time that we do have together. Most importantly, my parents have a very optimistic outlook, and they have taught me to regard the challenges in life as hurdles in a race. If you have enough practice and experience, you can overcome those hurdles.

Because of news reports, I know there are many families in the city that have real problems. Often these problems are financial.

I think it is important for family members to confide in each other and to share their feelings of happiness and unhappiness.

Families should be about helping each other and understanding each other's problems.

Natalie Ho Sin-wa, Sham Shui Po

Should shark's fin be dropped from all menus?

Shark's fin soup should be dropped from all menus.

While I understand that it is a traditional delicacy in Chinese culture, it is one tradition that should not be continuing in this day and age.

As far as I am concerned, it is a practice that is on a par with the killing of bears to merely harvest bile or elephants to harvest ivory.

Gordon Shkurhan, Fanling