Costly golf carts not for status, folks insist
They may be the price of a Maserati or a small studio apartment, but residents of Discovery Bay say their golf carts are no status symbol.
Licences to operate a cart at the resort-style residential estate have been selling for anything up to HK$2 million, it was revealed last week.
But residents of the car-free estate say the carts are just a way to make life a little easier.
'You see guys with paint-covered smocks riding in the carts,' said an 18-year-old resident, who declined to be named.
His friend Steve Denman, who owns a home - but not a golf cart - in Discovery Bay, said: 'The construction companies around here own some of the carts.'
Other carts are used by property agents. Centaline property says it owns five or six carts, and while her agency has none, Polly Tsang, account manager at Midland Realty's Discovery Bay branch, says about five or six other agencies own carts.
'They won't tell you how many they own; it's an issue of privacy.' She estimates that half of the 490 golf-cart licences are privately owned, and half are managed by businesses that own property in Discovery Bay.
Taxis and private cars are banned in Discovery Bay, with most of the population of 16,000 to 20,000 getting around on the public bus network.
Hong Kong Resort International, Discovery Bay's developer, said it was considering allowing a limited taxi service in the area.
Prices of golf carts have skyrocketed as the population of the estate has grown while the number of carts allowed remains the same.
In 2003, 'they were cheaper, around HK$200,000', Tsang said. 'Now, I heard one sold a few months ago for HK$1.95 million.'
One current owner is asking for HK$2.2 million. Elsewhere in the city, golf carts sell for HK$85,000 to HK$95,000.
The carts are traded among residents on supermarket notice boards or via property agents, but are hard to come by. Property agents say the last sale was a few months back.
A number are rented out for about HK$8,500 a month. Drivers must be at least 18 years old and hold a valid driving licence.
There has been little change in the number of cart permits since Discovery Bay was built in the 1980s, because the Transport Department feared more carts would make the roads crowded.
What you could buy for the current price of a Discovery Bay golf cart
Month in the presidential suite of the Four Seasons Hotel: 1
Porsche Boxsters: 2
Years of ESF education for two children: 13
Week-long holidays for two in the Maldives: 55