Nearly 100 applications to increase fares are expected to be submitted to cover surging operating costs, the transport chief said yesterday. Separately, three ferry operators announced they were to increase fares on 11 routes by 3.3 to 12.5 per cent next month. These increases do not need the approval of the Government as they were stated in their tender submissions, which formed part of their licence conditions. Legislators strongly opposed the increases, saying they would put more pressure on the public just as the economy was recovering. Addressing a Legco Special Finance Committee yesterday, Secretary for Transport Nicholas Ng Wing-fui said he estimated that 92 applications, either for individual routes or groups of routes, would be submitted by transport service operators this year. Among them, the tram company and some operators of New Territories taxis have proposed raising fares, he said. Mr Ng said the Government would not encourage operators to raise fares. 'However, their operating costs are increasing, especially with fuel prices having soared by 100 per cent in the past six months.' Admitting that any increase in fares would affect livelihoods, he said a number of factors would be taken into account in examining the proposals. These included operating costs, the level of reasonable profits, the overall economic situation and the burden of passengers. Emily Lau Wai-hing of The Frontier thought 92 might be an overestimation and she was worried that more transport operators might be encouraged to submit proposals to increase fares. Commissioner for Transport Robert Footman said: 'Ninety-two is not a target. 'We really are at the mercy of people who feel that they really need to apply. 'There were nine, 166 and 193 applications made last year, in 1998 and in 1997 respectively. So these figures do go up and down and they do reflect the economy.' Meanwhile, Elaine Chan, public affairs manager of New World First Bus, said the company had not made a decision yet but there was pressure to raise fares as workers' salaries had been frozen for three years and fuel prices had risen. Christine Lau Wai-king, corporate communication manager of Citybus, said the company was reviewing the issue. She said the company's costs had increased over the past three years while fares had remained the same. A spokesman for the Kowloon Motor Bus Company said it had no plans to increase fares. Lee Cheuk-yan of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions said: 'Although the economy is recovering, workers are still being suppressed by their companies. 'Also, the increase will have a chain effect on other companies.' Democrat Lau Chin-shek warned that the economy had not yet fully recovered, so public utilities could harm livelihoods by increasing prices. HIGHER TICKET PRICES Star Ferry: Hung Hom to Central, Hung Hom to Wan Chai - rises to $5.30 from $5. Discovery Bay Transportation Services: Tsim Sha Tsui East to Central - rises to $4.50 from $4. New World First Ferry: Cheung Chau to Central, Mui Wo to Central, Peng Chau to Central - ordinary ferry, ordinary class rises to $10.50 from $10 on weekdays, to $15.70 from $15 at weekends; fast ferry, ordinary class rises to $21 from $20 on weekdays, to $31 from $30 at weekends. Tsim Sha Tsui to Cheung Chau fast ferry - rises to $31 from $30 at weekends. North Point to Hung Hom - rises to $4.50 from $4.20.