The KCRC is determined to end its 20 per cent discount on East Rail fares, describing it as an unsustainable 'giveaway exercise' that had not led to more passengers. Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun said yesterday it was not commercially viable to extend the discount beyond May 31, when it is due to end. He was responding to a call from The Frontier legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing to keep the concession for at least another year. Ms Lau said the end of the discount on same-day returns would mean a fare rise for all but regular long-distance travellers, who would be able to buy discounted monthly passes from next month. Ms Lau and a number of Sha Tin and Tai Po district councillors gave Mr Tien a petition calling for an extension of the discount, with 3,150 signatures collected at stations along the line. 'Not every citizen has benefited from the economy which is only showing signs of picking up,' Ms Lau said. Ending the discount would put a burden on non-regular passengers and those taking short to medium trips, who would not be helped by the monthly pass. 'For bigger families, a few hundred dollars extra would mean a lot to them and cause them to tighten their belts,' she said. Mr Tien said the discount scheme, launched on April 1, 2003, had attracted less than 1 per cent more passengers. It was an unsustainable 'giveaway exercise', which failed to achieve a 'double-win situation' for passengers and the corporation. 'The KCR Corporation, being a wholly government-funded organisation that needs to operate under commercial principles, has been suffering a low 1 per cent asset-rate return, as opposed to the normal 4 to 5 per cent,' he said. 'We have not been increasing fares despite that ... we know we have to look after both aspects - the commercial aspect and people's livelihood. Otherwise, we would have increased the fares.'