Ma Wan ferry service's low usage means it had to be axed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 December, 2012, 6:05am

In response to the letter by Sherry Lee, of Ma Wan ("Ma Wan residents left stranded by decision to cancel ferries", December 23), Park Island Transport Company Ltd would like to clarify several important points about its ferry service.

The company operated the Ma Wan-Tsuen Wan West ferry route for 10 years.

During this period, traffic patterns for the majority of Ma Wan residents focused on land transport (75 per cent compared to 25 per cent by water).

Therefore, the route experienced low passenger usage, with occupancy rates of only 20 per cent during peak hours on weekdays and even less than 10 per cent on average during weekdays.

High oil prices further drove up operating costs, which led to accumulated losses for the route. In addition, the low occupancy rates also resulted in energy not being consumed efficiently - fuel usage for each ferry is more than 10 times that of a bus.

The company originally planned to cease ferry operations in 2011 but in order to facilitate further consultation and discussion, it extended the licence until 2012.

After gathering stakeholders' views on long-term transport solutions for Ma Wan during 2012, the company proposed two options. Both options would provide a new bus route between Ma Wan and Tsuen Wan West.

Despite these efforts, major stakeholders were unable to reach a consensus. Therefore, we had to terminate the ferry service between Ma Wan and Tsuen Wan West from December 14 when the licence expired.

The company has made a series of temporary transport arrangements, including increasing the passenger capacity of the existing resident service bus route between Ma Wan and Tsuen Wan based on actual traffic demand, stationing of staff at major traffic locations to explain arrangements, and allocating extra manpower to monitor the situation so necessary action could be taken when required.

The Transport Department has also allowed 24-hour urban taxi access to Ma Wan. Our initial observations show waiting times for Tsuen Wan buses have been maintained at the normal scheduled intervals of about 20 to 30 minutes.

The company is committed to providing long-term transport services to Ma Wan residents.

With this commitment in mind, the company will continue to hold discussions with residents, the Transport Department and other stakeholders to achieve mutually acceptable solutions.

Susan So, general manager, Park Island Transport Company Limited