Island ferry travellers hit by HK$4 fare rise

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 March, 2011, 12:00am

Travellers on ferries to and from the outlying islands will soon have to pay up to HK$4.10 more per trip.

The government approved fare rises of 9 to 12 per cent for single tickets and 7 per cent for monthly season tickets.

The smallest fare rise will be HK$1.10. The increases take effect on April 1 for travel to and from Mui Wo and on July 1 for other routes.

A spokeswoman for one of the operators, New World First Ferry, said fuel and maintenance costs were behind the rises.

The company had no choice but to increase fares in the current operating environment, she said.

Chan Lan-wai, chairman for the Lamma North Rural Committee, said he was very unhappy about the increases, which he said were not in line with the inflation rate.

'We haven't had double-digit pay rises, so how can we afford the higher fares?' he said. 'People living on the outlying islands have no choice. If things carry on like this, no one will be willing to live here.' He added that the Transport Department did not consult islanders before announcing the increases.

A government spokesman said the rises were necessary not just because of fuel prices, but also due to the introduction of a minimum wage and flat passenger numbers.

The government will provide a HK$120 million annual subsidy to operators of the ferry services.

Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, spokesman for a coalition that monitors public transport and utilities, said he was stunned by the fare increases.

He said: 'There is a trend of fare rises for all kinds of public transport. They will add to the financial burden on citizens.'

Tsoi urged the government to buy back the routes and run ferries as a public service for the residents of Lamma, Lantau, Cheung Chau and Peng Chau.

But while they may feel hard done by, users of cross-harbour ferries between North Point and Hung Hom and Kowloon City face a 22 per cent increase to HK$5.50 per trip.