Star Ferry has joined the recent trend of calling for fare rises, by announcing yesterday it had proposed increasing fares up to 41 per cent on its two most popular routes. Ticket prices on two routes - Tsim Sha Tsui to Central and Tsim Sha Tsui to Wan Chai - would also vary on weekdays and public holidays under its proposal, contrary to its current practice. Upper-deck passengers would be required to pay HK$2.50 on weekdays and HK$3 on weekends and holidays, a rise of 30 cents and 80 cents, respectively. Lower-deck passengers would have to pay HK$2 on weekdays and HK$2.40 on holidays. Commuters said the increases were mild and the ferry would remain the cheapest way to cross the harbour. But a coalition that monitors public transport and utilities said the increase would set a bad example to other public transport operators now demanding fare increases. All public transport operators except the MTR Corporation and Peak Tramways Company have asked to raise fares to keep pace with inflation. Apart from two other Star Ferry routes - Hung Hom to Wan Chai and Hung Hom to Central - which were granted fare rises earlier this month, the Transport Department is still assessing applications from the three bus firms, for four outlying islands ferry routes and 57 minibus routes. The Star Ferry Company said patronage on the Tsim Sha Tsui-Central route had dropped 18 per cent since its Central pier was moved next to the outlying ferry pier in 2006. Coupled with rising fuel prices and reduced advertising income, the two routes recorded losses for the first time last year of HK$5.8 million. The company said it expected losses again next year even if its application was approved.