New World First Ferry Services Ltd. is considering giving priority to Cheung Chau residents after complaints about piers and vessels being packed by holidaymakers, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Wednesday.
The firm is planning to open up a special passageway for Cheung Chau residents holding monthly or holiday passes to board the ferries during public holidays, possibly starting May 25 for the island’s Bun Festival.
Details are still being discussed among the ferry company, the Transport Department and residents’ representatives.
A total of 80-100 seats, out of 1,400, may be reserved on each boat for residents for a trial period of three to six months, Anthea Chau, corporate communications manager at First Ferry.
The company, however, is concerned about potential chaos that may occur when trying to identify residents of the island before allowing them to use the proposed passageway.
“Holders of monthly or holiday passes may not necessarily be the island’s residents,” Chau said.
The firm is concerned that having the new passage may cause tourists to wait too long and that chaotic situations may arise that damage the image of the city and the island.
Cheung Chau resident concern groups, meanwhile, have suggested issuing resident identification cards, but which organization should be authorized to do so is an issue that hasn’t been resolved.
A total of 60,000 passengers took the ferry between Central and Cheung Chau during the Easter and Ching Ming long weekend.
The traffic was three times the normal level of about 20,000.
First Ferry had difficulty coping with the crush of passengers even after doubling its service to eight trips per hour with help from retired captains.
Translation by Vey Wong
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