New World First Bus

Bus companies seek fare rises of up to 8.6pc

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 July, 2010, 12:00am

Kowloon Motor Bus and Long Win Bus yesterday applied for a fare rise of 8.6 per cent and 7.4 per cent respectively, despite a five-fold rise in their profit last year.

If approved, the fare rises are likely to take effect on January 1. The fare for a trip will rise by an average of 52 to 85 HK cents.

KMB and Long Win, which operates on North Lantau and at the airport, are both owned by Transport International. The operator recorded a post-tax profit of HK$364.5 million from its franchised bus business last year, while the profit was HK$75.7 million in 2008.

Citybus and New World First Bus said they had no plans to raise fares.

A KMB spokeswoman said the rise was due to increased operational expenses.

She said the average price for zero-sulphur diesel was up 46 per cent year on year, and that fuel accounted for 18 per cent of operating costs. The operator was also facing pressure from inflation and higher wages, she said.

The Transport Department said it would consult the Legislative Council's transport panel before seeking approval from the Executive Council and the chief executive.

Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, spokesman for a coalition that monitors public transport and utilities, said it was not the right time for a fare rise. 'People in Hong Kong did not receive a pay rise last year. Even if they get one this year, the rise will be very little. It is ridiculous to have a 7 to 8 per cent bus fare rise when the economy is still recovering,' he said.

The operator last raised its fares in June 2008, by 4.5 per cent.