Disappointed cyclists said they would travel by ferry less often after the government approved new charges for taking bikes on the Star Ferry yesterday, along with weekend and holiday price increases for two routes.
A HK$13 charge has been introduced on top of the usual passenger fare for taking a bike on the ferry between Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui, the only cross-harbour route on which cycles are allowed.
Foot passengers on routes between Central or Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui will see fares rise by 30 to 40 cents on weekends and public holidays from June, though weekday fares will remain unchanged.
Martin Turner, chairman of the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, which campaigned against the bike charge, said his group was heartbroken. Cyclists would probably use the MTR to cross the harbour instead, he said.
'We will use it less. We want to use the ferry. We want to be allies [with the ferry operators]. But making us pay five times the price of other passengers is unfair,' he said. The group are sceptical of the ferry company's claim that the charge was needed because of the cost of handling bikes.
Foot passengers will pay between HK$1.40, for a disabled person or a child on a weekday, and HK$3.40 for an adult on a weekend or holiday, under the new fare structure.
The price of a four-day tourist ticket, allowing unlimited travel on the two ferry routes and trams, will be reduced from HK$34 to HK$25.
Children under three and elderly passengers will continue to enjoy free travel on the two routes, with the government agreeing to reimburse the Star Ferry for the full cost.
The government said the reimbursement, worth an estimated HK$3.8 million a year, was an 'exceptional helping measure' as the additional fare revenue 'could not compensate for the increase in the Star Ferry's operating costs'.