Ferry fare rises of up to 6 per cent on the cards
Fares for six ferry routes connecting Central and outlying islands could go up by 5 to 6 per cent after the Transport Department specified the increase in agreeing in principle to the operators' licence extension applications.
This is only about half the 10 per cent increase the companies sought in applying to extend their licences for three years.
A final decision has yet to be made on the extensions.
The biggest increases, 6.2 per cent, were on the Central-Peng Chau, Central-Yung Shue Wan and Central-Sok Kwu Wan routes. It would cost HK$15.30 on an ordinary ferry and HK$28.50 on a fast ferry to Peng Chau on weekdays; HK$21.90 and HK$41.80 at weekends.
A trip to Yung Shue Wan would cost HK$17.10 on weekdays and HK$23.70 on Sundays and public holidays.
And to Sok Kwu Wan, a passenger would pay HK$21 on weekdays, and HK$29.80 on Sundays and public holidays. The routes are operated by Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry.
If endorsed, the increases will take place from July, together with a 5 per cent increase on New World First Ferry's Central-Peng Chau route and a 4.9 per cent increase on inter-island services between Peng Chau, Mui Wo, Chi Ma Wan and Cheung Chau.
Fares for ferries linking Central and Mui Wo will be increased by 5.2 per cent from April.
The department said it had considered the financial conditions of the ferry operators, their performance, the increase in operating costs and public affordability in the proposal.
The government will also allocate HK$190 million in the next three years to subsidise the operators, up from HK$150 million in the previous three.
Lawmaker and Islands district councillor Tang Ka-piu, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said the proposed increase meant the subsidy did not really benefit the public.
He suggested the government subsidise manpower and fuel costs instead of maintenance so it would be easier for the public to check how the subsidy was being used.