Hong Kong ferry fares to outlying islands cut

Government-subsidised firms announce discounts, saying price drop meant to share profits driven by low oil prices with travellers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 May, 2016, 12:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 May, 2016, 8:59am

Hongkongers will pay less to get to outlying islands, after two ferry firms running the routes cut fares from July to the end of the year by up to 20 per cent.

The companies said it was a way of sharing profits caused by low oil prices with commuters.

The two government-subsidised operators – New World First Ferry and Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry Holdings (HKKF) announced the fare cuts on Wednesday.

They will affect routes connecting Central to Cheung Chau, Mui Wo, Peng Chau, Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island, plus several inter-island connections.

From July 2 to December 31, those taking ordinary ferries, deluxe class of ordinary ferries or fast ferries to Cheung Chau, Mui Wo and between islands will be able to enjoy discounts ranging from a single-trip discount of HK$1.4 for an adult fare and HK$0.7 for children, old people or the disabled.

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A monthly ticket for trips to Cheung Chau or Mui Wo for use between July and December will be HK$84 cheaper.

Specific savings were announced for each route.

Due to the falling oil price and the operators’ increased revenues not related to fares, First Ferry and HKKF recorded profit margins of 9.8 per cent and 21.4 per cent respectively by the end of last year from mid-2014, when the government renewed their licences for three years until 2017.

Nelson Ng, the general manger of HKKF, said the fare concessions would be “win-win” for both the ferry operator and its customers.

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That, he said, was because they could help attract more travellers to the city’s outlying islands and stimulate their respective local economies, while helping ease the financial burden on travellers.

He added that an anticipated increase in passenger numbers, driven by the more enticing fares, would make up part of the losses caused by the fare concessions.

To help the operators keep their fares relatively low for outlying island residents, the government will also grant an expected subsidy of HK$190 million in the three-year licence period, through reimbursing expenses excluding fuel costs and staff pay.