MTR’s long-suffering passengers should not have to pay another fare hike

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2016, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2016, 4:01pm

It does not matter if the MTR Corporation makes HK$13 million or HK$13 billion in profits, as the fare adjustment mechanism is devised in such a manner that it can find any excuse to raise fares.

It will do this even if passengers are struggling with inflation, and there has been no improvement during that financial year in service delays, shortage of seats and overcrowding (especially during rush hours).

No serious steps have been taken by the MTR Corp to increase the frequency of trains or add compartments. The problems are exacerbated by the defective design of station platforms. No provision was made for increased demand on the service following the handover. The corporation’s priority appeared to be ensuring it got its fare hike mechanism approved by the government as it is such a lucrative cash cow.

In addition funding (and recently additional cash) for the high-speed rail link to the mainland was hastily approved by Legco to please Beijing.

Last year’s fare rise of on average 4.3 per cent, may not seem like much, but for many commuters paying fares on the MTR are a daily expense. For those struggling to make ends meet and have enough for other essentials, it increases their financial burden. It is the seventh year in a row MTR fares have been increased, despite the corporation making substantial profits – last year it was just under HK$13 billion.

I am also concerned about the rising costs of the high-speed rail link. I can’t help thinking that this and another expensive infrastructure project, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, will wipe out the government’s substantial revenue surplus.

Many lawmakers have asked the MTR Corp not to raise fares this year. While it seeks to maximise profits it must also recognise the importance of corporate social responsibility. It is being unfair to its passengers.

A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui