Fares on ferries to the outlying islands will rise by as much as 6 per cent in the next few months after the government approved applications by the operators.
The biggest increase will be 6.2 per cent on routes between Central, Peng Chau, and Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island.
Increases of 4.8 per cent to 5.2 per cent between Central and Mui Wo will take effect next month. The other rises, also including the Central-Cheung Chau and inter-island routes, will be imposed from June.
"As the ferry operators have had to face persistently high fuel prices and an increase in marine labour remunerations in recent years, the government considers that they have a justifiable need to increase the fares to enable them to maintain the existing service level for the ferry routes concerned," a Transport Department spokesman said, adding that the increases were "mild".
Passengers on the Peng Chau route will pay HK$15.30 on an ordinary ferry and HK$28.50 on a fast ferry on weekdays and HK$21.90 and HK$41.80 on Sundays and public holidays.
A trip to Yung Shue Wan on Lamma will cost HK$17.10 on weekdays and HK$23.70 on Sundays and public holidays. To Sok Kwu Wan, the fare will be HK$21 on weekdays and HK$29.80 on Sundays and public holidays.
The department said it had considered public opinion and the financial position of the operators, New World First Ferry and Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry.
The current fares were imposed in mid-2011. Inflation since then was 11.1 per cent, said the spokesman, while the median monthly household income had increased by 12.5 per cent.
Jo Wilson, of Living Lamma, said the increase was not surprising but warned it would hurt those on low incomes. She said more inter-island services would be a better way to boost business.