New ideas to offset hikes in ferry fares
Authorities should help ferry companies increase their non-fare revenue and to introduce a tariff adjustment mechanism similar to that of the Mass Transport Railway Corp, district councilors and legislators say.
This came with Sun Ferry's proposal to raise fares by 45 percent for its services between Central, Cheung Chau and Mui Wo and also on Inter Islands routes.
Answering questions at a special meeting of the Legislative Council finance committee meeting yesterday, Secretary for Transport and Logistics Lam Sai-hung said authorities will assess proposals after reviewing financial situations, patronage and citizens' affordability.
"But for non-fare revenue we will need further studies," Lam said.
Chan Hok-Fung, who represent Hong Kong Island West in the Legislative Council, said there should be a mechanism to limit increases.
"Residents living on outlying islands have no choice," Chan said. "They can't get home by swimming.
"Every time the public transport operators propose a fare hike they are putting the bite on the government, waiting for authorities to cut down the increase."
Alok Jain, chief executive and managing director of consultant Trans-Consult, said a company's poor business performance should not be considered when officials are deciding on fare hikes.
"Right now, the model seems to be that poor financial performance is an incentive for the operator, because the poorer they do the higher the fare they can [seek].
"I don't think that's how it should be approached. We need to find operators who maximize their returns."
Southern district councilor Paul Zimmerman said authorities should consider renovating dilapidated ferry piers on outlying islands to help raise non-fare revenue.
Lam also said the number of passengers and flights moving through the airport are now half of the pre-pandemic levels.
And a new "railway office" to coordinate cross-border rail projects is to be set up.
It will integrate the duties of the Railway Development Office in planning railway development as well as safety monitoring by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department.
Make sure your e-wallet is all ready to collect consumption vouchers, a government official said in a last-minute public reminder ahead of distribution of a new installment of HK$3,000 tomorrow.
Some 6.4 million Hong Kong residents will receive SMS or mobile app push notifications tomorrow for the new round of vouchers, which they will receive through their registered e-payment tools: AlipayHK, BoC Pay, Octopus, PayMe from HSBC, Tap & Go and WeChat Pay HK.
The head of policy coordination in the financial secretary's private office, Howard Lee Man-sing, reminded residents to make sure their e-payment tool was still working and to make sure no issue ensues when they activate the tool, as they still have time to contact service operators to solve the problem.
For those who own more than one Octopus card, they have to make sure to tap the registered one.
The government has said about 7,000 Hongkongers' e-wallet tools for receiving the vouchers have become invalid, including those that were returned or lost.
However, people can use a new Octopus card so long as they update their registration, Lee said, adding there is time to register an e-wallet, as the process takes two to three weeks. Authorities will send SMS notifications once the process is completed.
Octopus users will be able to collect voucher and public transport subsidy at the same time tomorrow.
"The current stored value limit is HK$3,000. Assuming the card has no value left and the person is entitled to the HK$200 transport subsidy, he will first get the HK$200 subsidy and then HK$2,800 consumption voucher," Lee said.
"After he has spent HK$200, he can tap his Octopus card at any subsidy collection points, service points or designated merchants to receive the other HK$200 voucher."
Meanwhile, merchants from 63 shopping malls across the SAR are ready to attract customers by offering coupons for those spending above a certain amount.
Eight malls under the Sino Group, including tmtplaza in Tuen Mun, Olympian City in West Kowloon, Citywalk in Tseun Wan, Island Resort Mall in Siu Sai Wan, Sino Plaza in Causeway Bay, and two Tsim Sha Tsui malls - China Hong Kong City, Tsim Sha Tsui Centre and Empire Centre, will launch rewards amounting to HK$30 million.
Customers can receive HK$50 shopping coupons and HK$50 food coupons so long as they spend at least HK$1,000 in the malls using their consumption vouchers.
Additionally, Octopus Cards plans to give out HK$10 coupons to a total of 100,000 users on Tuesdays, April 18 and 25.
Each set of 50,000 coupons will be distributed through the Octopus mobile app at 10 am on a first-come-first-serve basis.