Government claims on transport subsidies are disingenuous | South China Morning Post
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  • Mar 30, 2015
  • Updated: 3:37am

Government claims on transport subsidies are disingenuous

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 November, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong's ferry services have apparently been losing money for some time and some communities are calling for government support to maintain regular transport links, which is contentious.

It is specious of our SAR government to argue that it cannot subsidise public transport; it already does so.

The MTR Corporation's rail services run at a loss, offset by the profits from its shopping malls and other property assets, built on very cheap land contributed by the government.

Likewise, the bus concessionaires' remittances to the government come nowhere near the cost of road maintenance due to the damage inflicted by heavy vehicles on wet roads.

The real costs to the public health system attributable to illnesses associated with vehicular pollution - like asthma, respiratory disease and heart disease - are also never considered in any government budget.

The government-owned Cross-Harbour Tunnel, through which hundreds of buses commute every day, is priced at a heavy discount compared to commercially operated tunnels to its east and west. It is therefore quite clear that Hong Kong's government can and does subsidise public transport and has done so for a very long time.

Finally, if we must have this expensive Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge inflicted on us, the provision of the Lantau park-and-ride is the only plan that would make it safe for our local motorists and pedestrians.

Our mainland neighbours have many wonderful qualities, but courteous, safe driving practices are not among them.

They also will not be paying the high Hong Kong petrol taxes that maintain our roads, having filled up cheaply on the mainland before they leave.

It is better for our esteemed guests to leave the car behind in Lantau.

They can then enjoy a few convivial drinks with their families and friends without fear of drunk-driving incidents and use Hong Kong's subsidised public transport system to move around the city's many attractions.

Simon E. F. Appleby, Fanling


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