Tram operator wants fare rise
Hong Kong Tramways wants to raise fares by 50 cents to HK$2.50 to help fund a proposed upgrade programme. It is the first time the transport operator has asked for an increase in fare since 1998, when it was owned by Wharf Holdings.
Veolia Transport, Hong Kong Tramways' French owner, suggested improvements to the rail and traction systems, more comfortable cabins and an on-board broadcasting service.
The company also plans to add turnarounds in Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and North Point to break the journey between Shau Kei Wan and Western district into shorter loops.
The Transport Department said changes in the economic environment, affordability, the operator's performance, financial situation and service improvement schemes would be considered in assessing the application.
But some lawmakers and commuters are opposed to the 25 per cent rise.
'For many passengers, the main reason they take the tram is cheapness,' said Hong Kong Island lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan. 'They don't care much if it's slow, noisy and without air conditioning, especially the elderly, students and maids.'
Another lawmaker, Kam Nai-wai, said passengers should evaluate the extra services to see if they justified the rise.
Some passengers told the South China Morning Post that raising the fare by 20 to 30 cents would be more acceptable, while others said 50 cents would be reasonable with air conditioning.
Veolia said more public consultation on air conditioning will be needed since many passengers prefer fresh air.
Apart from Veolia, Kowloon Motor Bus has also applied for a fare increase of 8.6 per cent, while the MTR increased its fare averaging 2.05 per cent in May. And taxi operators want to raise the flag-fall rate to HK$20.