Hong Kong rail giant MTR slashes weekend fares as compensation over huge service disruption but move fails to impress train users
- Company offers discount as ‘small token of gratitude’ to passengers after severe breakdown on four of the city’s rail lines caused six hours of delays
Hong Kong’s railway giant slashed its fares by half on Saturday in a weekend offer to compensate users for its worst ever service failure, which hit hundreds of thousands of commuters during rush hour last month.
“Adult Octopus holders enjoy child concessionary fares while other Octopus holders pay HK$1 [13 US cents] only for every journey,” the MTR Corporation said in a notice posted on its website.
Similar notices were displayed at MTR stations for the discounts, available on Saturday and Sunday.
The city’s sole rail operator offered the special fares as “a small token of the MTR’s gratitude”, operations director Adi Lau Tin-shing told a Legislative Council meeting on Monday.
Child concessionary fares are around 50 per cent cheaper. Those already enjoying discounts such as the elderly, children and students pay HK$1 per trip regardless of travel distance.
The special fares did not apply to the Airport Express, MTR feeder buses, journeys to or from Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau stations and the East Rail Line first class premium.
The severe breakdown on four of the city’s rail lines – Island, Kwun Tong, Tseung Kwan O and Tsuen Wan – caused six hours of serious delays and commuter turmoil during morning rush hour on October 16. Preliminary findings showed the incident was caused by a system failure.
However, the discount failed to impress passengers.
At Causeway Bay station, MTR user Anthony Leung said he knew about the offer, but it would not make up for the losses he suffered.
For work, he commuted from Tseung Kwan O to Mong Kok but had to take a day’s annual leave on October 16.
“I don’t think they can make up for anything by providing this special discount. It’s just a few dollars,” he said. “They should check the system to ensure such problems don’t happen again.”
University student Marco Pong said offering a discount at the weekend did not make sense as the breakdown happened during rush hour on a weekday.
A frequent MTR user surnamed Wong said the discount was better than nothing – but what the company really needed to do was update its old system and enhance transparency.
“The city relies heavily on the system, even a five-minute delay could cause a lot of trouble,” he said.
Lau previously said the MTR was concerned that discounts on weekdays might lead to an increase in passengers.