Two major bus operators in Hong Kong to raise fares by 12 per cent from next year

Citybus and New World First Bus blame rising operational costs, while Lantau cable car operator Ngong Ping 360 also announces price adjustment

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 August, 2017, 9:11pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 August, 2017, 9:11pm

Two of Hong Kong’s major bus operators plan to raise fares by 12 per cent in January 2018 citing rising operational costs.

Citybus and New World First Bus, which collectively operate 169 bus routes and own about 3,000 buses across the city, said the proposed increases meant 85 per cent of non cross-harbour routes will see passengers pay less than HK$1 extra per trip and 70 per cent of cross-harbour routes will be less than HK$2 extra.

If approved by the government, it will be the first fare rise in nine years.

The proposal came despite the companies’ bigger rival Kowloon Motor Bus vowing to freeze fares this year, and even planning small discounts on certain routes.

Citybus and New World First Bus, owned by NWS Holdings, said the proposed fare adjustment had already taken public affordability into consideration.

The two operators have suffered a considerable loss of passengers to the MTR’s West Island line extensions in 2015 and the opening of the South Island line in 2016, an NWS spokesman said.

Heavy investment in future fleet replacement, rising wages and a loss of advertising revenue also weighed heavily on the operators’ profitability, he said.

Separately, Lantau cable car operator Ngong Ping 360 will raise fares by 12.3 per cent on average from September 1.

In its first price adjustment since January 2016, a standard adult round trip at the popular tourist attraction will cost HK$210, up from HK$185. A child ticket price will rise from HK$95 to HK$100.

The cable car operator raised prices because of a significant rise in maintenance and salary costs in the past two years, Stella Kwan Mun-yee, the company’s managing director said. She anticipated further increases to these costs.

Investment in an electronic queuing system in the first half of the year had also driven up the expenses, she added.

Stormy Hong Kong weather blamed for slump in visitors to cable car

Despite the increase, Hong Kong residents are given a privilege, as the new fares will not take effect for them until the end of this year. A free ride will also be offered to Hongkongers on their birthdays.

The Lantau Island attraction reopened in June after a five-month revamp replaced the ropes.

Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park both raised adult admission fees by 9.3 per cent and 13.8 per cent in December last year.