Fare rise may not avoid Star Ferry loss

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2008, 12:00am

Star Ferry may face a deficit of more than HK$5 million by the end of the year even if its proposed fare increase comes into effect in July, the company's chief said yesterday while celebrating its 110th anniversary.

Star Ferry managing director Frankie Yick Chi-ming said the fare rise was necessary because of increasing operating costs.

It has proposed a fare increase of 13 to 40 per cent on its routes from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central and Wan Chai. This would increase the weekday price of upper-deck tickets from HK$2.20 to HK$2.50, and lower-deck tickets from HK$1.70 to HK$2.

'The proposed increase may look impressive percentage-wise ... but in fact we are only asking for 30 cents more in fares,' Mr Yick said.

'Even if the government approves our proposal by July, we still expect a deficit of more than HK$5 million at the end of this year. We hope that the proposal will be endorsed by the Legislative Council before July.'

He also announced activities to mark the anniversary, including a photo competition and a joint ticket offer with Peak Tramways available from June to August.

Acting transport commissioner Carolina Yip Lai-ching said the government's review of data provided by Star Ferry on its passenger numbers and operating costs had entered the final stage.

But she said the fare rise had yet to be approved by Legco and the Executive Council.

Star Ferry has also proposed introducing different prices for weekends and holidays, charging HK$3 for an upper-deck ticket and HK$2.40 for the lower deck.

It last adjusted its fares in June 1997, raising fares by 20 HK cents.

The number of passengers has dropped by more than 10 per cent since the service moved from its pier in Central in 2006.

Regarding proposed fare increases from five bus operators, Ms Yip said Exco would allow Kowloon Motor Bus, Long Win Bus, New Lantau Bus, Citybus and New World First Bus to increase their fares, but the rise would be lower than the 5.8 to 9 per cent they had been hoping for.