Hong Kong MTR

Two in three MTR passengers dissatisfied with fare adjustment tool

Mechanism whose objective was to keep prices under control approved fare rises in past seven years

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2017, 5:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2017, 1:36pm

MTR passengers have lost confidence in a mechanism meant to keep fares in check, according to a Civic Party survey, while lawmakers seek stricter rules for the railway giant.

More than two-thirds of 1,002 respondents in a telephone poll last month expressed dissatisfaction towards the fare adjustment mechanism, which gave the green light to fare rises in the past seven years. The respondents were each asked seven questions.

The formula, which takes into account the consumer price index, wages of transportation workers and a pre-determined productivity factor, is currently under review, with results expected by this year.

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Lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said 61 per cent of those polled also agreed that more rebates should be introduced under the current profit-sharing system, which requires MTR to set aside 2 per cent of its profits for fare concessions. The company yielded a net profit of HK$10.2 billion last year.

The railway operator is also tied to a service performance arrangement which imposes financial penalties in the event of serious disruptions.

But legislator Jeremy Tam Man-ho said under the current rules, only disruptions of 31 minutes or more would incur penalties. There were eight such disruptions in the period of 13 months including January this year.

“[During the same period] there were another 114 incidents which caused disruptions of between eight and 30 minutes. But the MTR was not fined for any of those blunders,” he said.

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The party called on the government to enforce a stricter system, under which any delay of 11 minutes or more would be classified as a punishable incident.

It also said in the long term, a review of the fare calculation method would be necessary, with an aim to lower fares for long-haul trips.

Kwok pointed to cities such as London and Shanghai which use a zone-based fare table as examples.

“Many residents in new towns such as Tung Chung and Tin Shui Wai live in public housing. Why are we punishing them by charging them such high fares to travel to urban areas?” he added.