New bridge to Macau and Zhuhai will be to Hong Kong ferries what new MTR lines were to bus services
I am writing in response to the report, “New bridge to start battle between coaches and ferries to Macau and Zhuhai” (September 2).
This 55km mega bridge will open to traffic before the end of the year, connecting three popular destinations in the Pearl River Delta, of interest to both tourists and business travellers. It will offer a smart transport choice, via 24/7 coach services. The availability of this convenient and cheap option for crossing the estuary will affect ferry companies the most.
But this is not the first time that new infrastructure has put pressure on Hong Kong’s existing transport operators. When the new West Island Line and South Island Line of the MTR opened, some in the transport industry were seriously affected.
With regard to South Island routes, bus No 629 had for years been carrying tourists and locals to Ocean Park for a day out. From around the time that the park opened, families would jump on the bus, as it ran a fast and direct route to the park. The buses were mostly full, by the end of the day, tourists and day trippers with their souvenirs were back on board again.
But with the opening of the South Island Line, passenger numbers have fallen, putting pressure on costs like fuel and the tunnel toll. Fewer passengers have seen this route reduced to a one-way trip, with only five departures each morning, and two related routes have been cancelled.
As for the West Island Line, red minibus services had similar experiences. Due to the sharp drop in passengers, the number of minibus routes in the area has been cut from 20 to around seven. The earnings of drivers, most of whom rent their vehicles, have been hit, and some of them have to pay tunnel tolls as well.
Similarly, companies running ferry services to Macau and Zhuhai are sure to feel the squeeze after the bridge opens, and we may see fares lowered to draw passengers and continue normal operations.
Ken Au, Kwun Tong