The government-subsidised HK$2 concessionary transport fare for elderly and disabled people was generally hailed as a positive welfare initiative when it was rolled out in 2012. But when Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor unexpectedly pledged last year to lower the eligibility from those aged 65 and above to 60, questions were asked over how it could be justified and its long-term cost. A year-long review paving the way for an extension of the scheme by early next year does little to ease concerns. The government has yet to make a convincing case to lower the threshold. While the concession, which will not be means tested, is welcomed by the 600,000 more people who stand to benefit, the tendency to put back retirement suggests many may still be working or financially independent. Over the years, billions of dollars have gone to profit-making transport operators, raising questions over the use of taxpayers’ money. The scheme has benefited many of the elderly and disabled who may otherwise have led a less active social life because of high transport costs. But it has also resulted in irregularities, such as an unusual surge in the use of the appropriate Octopus cards as well as the government having to pay long-haul fares for passengers taking short bus rides. The proposal to tie future subsidies with the mandatory use of Octopus cards featuring users’ identification details is a necessary step to guard against abuse, but it nonetheless comes as a compromise on privacy. Officials also concede that the adjustments will cost more and take another year to prepare. That it takes two years to review and implement such a move is yet another example of bad governance. The initiative was seen as a part of a policy U-turn in a surprise HK$10 billion spending spree to help boost Lam’s popularity a year ago. There has been a suggestion that the package, including a pledge to standardise statutory public holidays for all workers, was dictated by Lam without her going through the usual internal deliberation process. The government’s fiscal health has since deteriorated in the wake of several rounds of Covid-19 relief measures. The extended concession is projected to raise the current cost from HK$1.3 billion to HK$8.6 billion by 2031. Such a financial burden cannot be ignored.