Ferry fares increase, but challenges loom
Higher ferry fares took effect yesterday despite a looming legal challenge over price gaps.
Trips to and from outlying island communities - apart from Mui Wo, where fares rose on April 1 - cost up to HK$4.10 more.
But questions remain over the future of the fare structure after a Cheung Chau community leader was granted a judicial review of what he says is a broken government promise to narrow the gap between weekday fares and those charged on Sundays and public holidays.
An islands district councillor, meanwhile, is hoping to lessen the impact of the increase by seeking concessions from the ferry company.
Kenny Kwok Cheuk-kin, chairman of the Cheung Chau Neighbourhood Association, was granted the review on Wednesday when he accused the transport commissioner of breaking a promise to narrow the fare gap to less than 20 per cent. But he failed to get an interim injunction to put on hold the Transport Department's decision that allows New World First Ferry to set fares with a difference of 46 per cent between weekdays and Sundays.
The government approved rises of 9 to 12 per cent for single-journey tickets and 7 per cent for monthly tickets, citing a rise in fuel prices, the minimum wage and flat passenger numbers as reasons.
Island district councillor Lee Kwai-chun said that while she was disappointed at the government's decision to allow the increase, she was asking the company for concessions, such as half-price trips for students.
Lee said the district council had already confirmed that an additional 7.15pm ferry from Central to Cheung Chau would start running this month to ease rush hour crowds, as well as a special-rate package for Saturday and Sunday, but she hoped more concessions could be secured to help ease the burden for frequent ferry travellers.
Lee also wants the Transport Department to cancel the price increase for monthly tickets.
Jackson Ng Wah-fai, a Lamma resident, said the rise on the Central to Lamma route from HK$14.50 to HK16.10 was reasonable.