DB residents on warpath over ferry fare rise

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 May, 2013, 7:55am

Discovery Bay residents yesterday protested against a 9.5 per cent ferry fare increase approved by the Transport Department against their objections.

About 50 people marched from Pier 3 in Central to the government headquarters at Tamar in the afternoon.

The rise means the one-way adult daytime fare will rise from HK$33.80 to HK$37, while child and elderly one-way tickets will go from HK$17 to HK$18.50. The rises take effect from today.

The raise is more than double the inflation rate.

Residents say the Transport Department had failed to uphold its own guidelines of taking into account public opinion when assessing an application for a fare increase.

Discovery Bay district councillor Amy Yung said ferry operator Discovery Bay Transportation Services - owned by Lantau developer HKR International - had threatened to withdraw services if the rise was not granted, and the department had "succumbed to blackmail".

"We are gravely disappointed that [the department] has abandoned its duty in response to threats," she said.

Both ferry services and bus services in Discovery Bay are operated by subsidiaries of the developer, and run by the same management team.

In May 2011, ferry fares between Discovery Bay and Central went up an average of 7.5 per cent.

"We urge the government to investigate the Transport Department and take firm action against the anti-competitive commercial practices of HKR International in order to protect Discovery Bay's 18,000 residents," Yung said.

The developer has blamed the increases on rising petrol prices, wages and maintenance costs.

The government has extended the operator's licence until April 30 next year.