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Transport and logistics

Hong Kong sees in new year – and along with it higher train fares, tunnel tolls, electricity tariffs and parking fees

  • Train users can expect to pay 3 per cent more for fares as rebate ends while motorists using the Tai Lam Tunnel will also take hit
  • New transport subsidy should take some of the sting away for commuters
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 8:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 3:49pm

Hongkongers have seen in the new year but less welcome are the increases in train fares, tunnel tolls, electricity tariffs and parking fees that arrived with it. However, a new transport subsidy should take some of the sting away for commuters.

A long-awaited HK$4,000 cash handout scheme, meanwhile, will open for applications from February 1 to April 30, the government announced on New Year’s Eve.

From January 1, the city’s railway giant the MTR Corporation ended its 3 per cent rebate on every trip made using an Octopus card, meaning an equivalent fare increase for passengers.

The profit-making firm announced it would raise ticket prices by 3.14 per cent in the summer but later came up with concessions – the six-month rebate – amid a public outcry.

The new year brought an end to the programme and at the same time the rail giant increased prices on schemes for frequent travellers – the MTR City Saver, Monthly Pass Extra and Tuen Mun-Nam Cheong Day Pass – by up to HK$15.

Cost of your commute could double as government targets congestion

Drivers were not spared the rising prices.

At Tai Lam Tunnel, a transport link between Ting Kau and Yuen Long in the western New Territories, tolls rose rise by 8 to 10 per cent for all vehicles except light buses. Private cars and taxis will now be charged HK$48.

The Hong Kong Housing Authority also increased monthly charges for parking spaces for private cars by around 6 per cent, starting from January 1, with the most expensive type reaching HK$2,890. Hourly parking rates rose by HK$1, while day pass charges increased by up to HK$5 for all regions.

Households on Hong Kong Island also saw their power bills increase with the arrival of the new year with HK Electric’s tariffs rising by 6.8 per cent. CLP Power, which serves customers in Kowloon and the New Territories, raised tariffs by 2 per cent from October.

But there was some good news for residents as a non-means tested transport subsidy kicked in.

Under the scheme, the government will subsidise 25 per cent of commuters’ spending on public transport – covering all modes including the MTR, franchised buses, minibuses, trams and ferries – above an initial HK$400. The subsidy amount is capped at HK$300 per month.

Cash handout scheme will cost HK$330 million to administer

The new scheme came into force on January 1 and commuters will be able to claim their first subsidy with their Octopus cards from February 16.

Separately, more than one-third of Hongkongers, or 2.8 million people, eligible for the Caring and Sharing Scheme were reminded that applications for a handout of up to HK$4,000 would open from February 1 to April 30.

Application forms would be available from January 21 on the dedicated website, or at inquiry centres of the Home Affairs Department, a government spokesman said.

Hong Kong residents aged 18 or above as of December 31, 2018 who do not own property, do not receive government allowances and need not pay income tax for the 2017-18 financial year will get the full HK$4,000. Those who meet the first two criteria, but still pay income tax and are eligible for tax breaks announced in the budget, can claim the difference between HK$4,000 and the concessionary amount.