MTR Corporation to offer China National Day fare discounts on Hong Kong’s rail network
Chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang says move will cost company HK$30 million but denies discounts are sweeteners following series of service breakdowns
The operator of Hong Kong’s rail network will offer fare discounts in October to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty.
Adults travelling on the National Day holidays of October 1 and 2 will pay concessionary rates of half the normal fare, while those who normally enjoy discounts – mainly children and the disabled – will pay a flat fare of HK$1 per journey.
A further 3 per cent discount on all fares will apply on top of the lower holiday rates. That discount is in effect until December, having been applied last month. But trips on the Airport Express, MTR feeder buses, cross-border journeys and the East Rail Line’s premium class are excluded.
MTR Corporation chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang said he expected the one-off discounts would cost the company HK$30 million.
It is not the first time the railway operator has offered passengers such an incentive – the same offer was available on the first Saturday of five months between November last year and March.
The move was part of the fare adjustment mechanism governing the MTR’s fare structure, which requires the operator to rebate passengers if its underlying business profit exceeds a certain amount in the previous year.
Under the current mechanism, HK$75 million worth of fare concessions must be offered if the MTR Corporation nets an annual profit of between HK$5 billion and HK$6 billion. The rebate increases as profits rise, with a cap of HK$325 million for an annual profit of HK$15 billion or above.
Ma denied the latest discount was in response to a number of service breakdowns recently, including a 10-hour delay on the Kwun Tong Line on August 5. An independent probe has been launched into that incident. The company has denied an ageing system was to blame. The Kwun Tong Line was the first to begin service in 1979.
The embarrassing series of breakdowns prompted chief executive Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen to apologise to commuters and promise to spend “significantly” more on maintenance. He insisted the network was still “world class” and had been running as scheduled 99.9 per cent of the time.