Discovery Bay ferry row: Lesson to be learned from Park Island, Ma Wan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 5:11am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 7:25am

Residents of Park Island have experienced similar transport problems to those faced by the residents of Discovery Bay.

Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), the developer of the private housing estate on Ma Wan, an island in Tsuen Wan, followed the Discovery Bay model and established a ferry link for residents.

"Originally they set up good transport to Central and Tsuen Wan that lured many people to buy into the development," said marketing manager Natasha Gray, a resident since 2011.

"I thought it [a ferry service] was guaranteed ... but after the principal sales were made, SHKP claimed it was expensive to run the ferry services and tried to cut Tsuen Wan completely."

Gray recalled residents' anger at meetings where SHKP threatened to slash services.

Transport Department officials, meanwhile, took the same stance as they did for the issue in Discovery Bay - saying the cut in ferry services was not within the department's jurisdiction.

Tsuen Wan district councillor Michael Tien Puk-sun attended the meetings as a mediator. He said: "Ma Wan is different from Discovery Bay in that it must provide reasonable ferry services to Central only, not Tsuen Wan. But to have a better chance at selling the property, SHKP offered services to Tsuen Wan. When it announced it had to cut back, there was an uproar."

After heated negotiations, the residents and SHKP reached a deal which, Tien said, goes beyond the developer's obligations.

Since May, there have been ferries to Tsuen Wan three times a day and a bus service when ferries are not running.

But Gray said residents were braced for a ferry fare increase. It currently costs HK$22 for a one-way adult ticket.