Hong Kong ferry fares for six outlying island routes to go up 4pc on average next year
Change affects routes between Central and Cheung Chau, Peng Chau, Mui Wo on Lantau Island, Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island, and several inter-island trips between Peng Chau, Mui Wo, Chi Ma Wan and Cheung Chau
Ferry fares for six outlying island routes will rise an average of 4 per cent next year after the government approved applications by the operators on Friday.
The fare increase will apply to routes between Central and Cheung Chau, Peng Chau, Mui Wo on Lantau Island, Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island, as well as a few inter-island boat trips between Peng Chau, Mui Wo, Chi Ma Wan and Cheung Chau.
According to the paper that the Transport and Housing Bureau submitted for the Legislative Council’s Panel on Transport meeting next Friday, the new fares will come into effect for the route between Central and Mui Wo on April 1 next year, while the other routes will be affected from July 2017 onwards.
The paper revealed that the two ferry operators, New World First Ferry and Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry, requested a fare increase of 10 per cent when applying for a licence extension. The reason given was a “significant increase in operating costs”, in particular the significant rise in ferry crew pay in recent years.
The government has allowed an increase ranging from 3.7 per cent to 4.7 per cent while approving the renewal of their licenses – to be extended to 2020.
It will also provide Special Helping Measures amounting to HK$410 million for the two operators in the next three years to ensure a continuation of service. The subsidy is a 115.8 per cent increase from $190 million for the current three-year licence term.
With the subsidy, the two operators will offer passengers fare concessions on a 50:50 basis at the end of their licence period if their profit exceeds the projected profit margin that they submitted during the licence extension application.
Cheung Chau resident Howard Li Ho-fung, 24, was shocked by the price increase as he felt the government should have imposed a larger percentage increase on single journey tickets prices and less for monthly tickets.
“I think the government should protect island residents as ferries are the only transport for them, but single ticket purchases – which I believe are mainly [made by] tourists – could share more of that burden,” Li said.
Li, who works in the hotel industry in Causeway Bay, currently buys monthly tickets at HK$513 for travelling to Central at least five days a week. He will have to pay HK$19 more for the tickets next July.
Victor Li, 28, who lives and works in Yung Shue Wan on Lamma Island, said he found the fare increase reasonable.
“This percentage increase and frequency is actually much less than [for the] bus and MTR,” Li said.
He will pay HK$0.90 more for each single journey next year.
The current fares date from mid-2014. The fare increase at that time ranged from 4.8 per cent to 6.2 per cent.