The MTR fare increase that takes effect next month is needed to help cover rising costs and other expenses, a source in the corporation said yesterday as it announced the details of the 3.6 per cent rise.
The company at the same time rolled out concession plans including an early bird scheme and a "City Saver" ticket for urban commuters.
But critics argued that the MTR should not increase its fares when services are deteriorating.
The fare rise for 52 per cent of the passengers would be under 20 cents; 26 per cent would pay 30 cents to 40 cents more, and the rest would face increases of more than 50 cents, the MTR said.
The early bird concession will apply to passengers leaving one of 29 urban stations between 7.15am and 8.15am on weekdays in a trial to last until May next year.
The MTR commercial director, Jeny Yeung Mei-chun, said the number of peak-hour commuters is expected to drop only a few per cent with the scheme, last tried in the 1990s. "We haven't had the scheme for a long time, and we want to see how passengers will react to it," she said.
With the "City Saver" ticket, passengers will pay HK$400 for 40 trips on a designated urban network involving 54 stations. A ticket is valid for 30 days, and the MTR said it amounts to a discount of 10 per cent to 24 per cent.
The concession packages, together with a 10-month scheme that offers 10 per cent discount for every second trip a passenger makes in a day, will cost the MTR HK$500 million.
The MTR source said it would cost hundred of billions to pay for development over the next 50 years. That would include purchasing new trains and improving signalling systems.
But lawmaker Wu Chi-wai, of the Democratic Party, said the MTR should not increase its fares because of the many disruptions passengers now face. He said the early bird scheme should last until 2018, when improved signalling is expected to allow trains to run more frequently.