New World First Bus applied for a 5.8 per cent fare increase yesterday, escalating a rush for fare rises begun earlier this year.
While the recent merger of train services has led to discounts of 5 to 10 per cent for rail commuters, bus, ferry and taxi companies have been demanding fare increases since July.
The proposed adjustment by New World First Bus, which also runs Citybus, would mean an extra HK 20 cents to HK 30 cents for Hong Kong Island routes, HK 50 cents for cross-harbour routes and HK$1 for long-haul routes.
The company hopes the government will make a decision by March, but the Transport Department said such fare-adjustment assessments normally take six months.
A spokeswoman said the company had seen a slight drop in patronage since the rail merger on December 2, but more study was needed before New World would decide if any concessions should be offered on the worst hit to retain passengers.
It said some of its routes had not adjusted fares since 1997, but during that period staff costs and fuel prices had jumped by 10 per cent and four-fold respectively, and costs of spare parts had increased by 50 per cent.