Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Thursday, Feb 02, 2023

Hong Kong’s Star Ferry went overboard with fare proposal: transport authorities

Hong Kong’s Star Ferry went overboard with fare proposal: transport authorities

Deputy transport secretary Amy Wong says government will weigh up public acceptance and lawmaker feedback before deciding on final price rises.

Hong Kong’s Star Ferry has gone overboard with a proposal to double its fares, transport authorities have said, promising the final increase would take into account the company’s financial difficulties and the public’s willingness to absorb yet another price hike for a basic service.

Deputy Secretary for Transport and Logistics Amy Wong Pui-man made the pledge on Friday to lawmakers, who called the requested price increase “shockingly high” and urged the government to look into how the company’s piers could be rejuvenated to boost their business potential.

“What we gather from the lawmakers is that Star Ferry has a valid reason to ask for fare increases, but asking to double fares is way too much,” Wong told the transport panel members.

“We also think that the proposed fare rises are high, and we’ll balance different factors, such as public acceptance, before deciding on the final fare rises.”

She recognised the need to increase prices due to the financial difficulties facing the 124-year-old company. In 2021, its ferries carried only 9.57 million passengers, a 46 per cent drop from 17.97 million in 2019.

Star Ferry is seeking to double adult fares for upper deck seats on the Central to Tsim Sha Tsui route to HK$6.40 (82 US cents) on weekdays and HK$8.40 on weekends and holidays. The same increase is also being sought for the full-price fare for rides from Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui.

Lower-deck trips would also double, while children would be charged HK$3.60 to HK$5 a trip depending on the travel date, route and deck involved.

Monthly tickets, meanwhile, would double to HK$320 and tourist tickets to HK$64.

The elderly, who currently enjoy free ferry rides, could pay as much as HK$5 a trip. But the company said it would apply to join the government’s HK$2 flat fare scheme for the elderly and disabled.

Wong said the government would come up with a revised proposal for the Executive Council’s approval after taking into account lawmakers’ opinions and consulting the Transport Advisory Committee.

Star Ferry’s general manager David Chow Cheuk-yin said the firm had no choice but to raise fares as it had accumulated losses of more than HK$85 million since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The company now owes banks more than HK$72 million.

“We are sorry for shocking the public. This is the last resort that we are compelled to make,” he said. “We are now heavily in debt with no end in sight while still burning HK$1 million per week to support operations. But we will study all possible concession options.”

Various lawmakers at Friday’s meeting called on the government to curb the price rises, saying the latest proposals would likely drive away the public and threaten the ferry’s survival.

But they all agreed the Star Ferry was an iconic tourist attraction and the government needed to think of ways to diversify its revenue.

“It seems that the Star Ferry is now drinking poison to quench a thirst by asking for the high fare rise to ease its financial difficulties,” said legislator Chan Hok-Fung of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.
Perry Yiu was among the lawmakers calling for a rethink.

“But there will be a higher chance that it will push itself to a dead end as passengers will look for alternative transport means.”

Tourism lawmaker Perry Yiu Pak-leung agreed, saying: “Even if Star Ferry doubles its fares, it is difficult to be sustainable. The government should develop Star Ferry as a cultural tourism attraction to boost the firm’s vibrant growth.”

The Star Ferry fare changes are among a flurry of transport and public utility price increases on the cards for Hongkongers, with urban taxi operators the latest to put forward a request. Industry representatives on Thursday asked the government to raise the flag fall charge by HK$6 from the present HK$27.


Related Articles

Hong Kong News
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
Chinese search giant Baidu to launch ChatGPT like AI chatbot.
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
China relaxes 'red lines' on property sector borrowing in policy pivot
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
Vietnam removes two deputy PMs amid anti-corruption campaign
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
China’s recovery could add 1% to Australia’s GDP: JPMorgan 
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
China vows to strengthen financial support for enterprises: official
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
2 Billion People To Travel In China's "Great Migration" Over Next 40 Days
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
Flight constraints expected to weigh on China travel rebound
Billionaire Jack Ma relinquishes control of Ant Group
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
Teslas now over 40% cheaper in China than US
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
China seeks course correction in US ties but will fight ‘all forms of hegemony’, top diplomat Wang Yi says
China will boost spending in 2023
African traders welcome end of China’s Covid travel curbs
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
Preparations begin for Spring Festival travel rush
Domestic COVID-19 drug effective in trial
HK to see a full recovery, John Lee says in New Year message
Bargain hunters flock to last day of Hong Kong brands and products expo
Hong Kong aims for January 8 reopening of border with mainland China