Wharf (Holdings) Ltd. (00004.HK) has submitted another application for a fare increase on its Star Ferry service, after its rate hike bid towards the end of last year remained unanswered.
The Star Ferry operator has proposed a two-phase increase in ticket prices, with the cumulative rate hike reaching 30 percent from 60 HK cents to 80 HK cents for a single trip for an adult, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
If approved by the Transport Department, the first increase of 16 to 21.4 percent would take effect in February next year, with a weekday adult ticket of HK$2.5 going up to HK$2.9.
The second rate hike is scheduled for early 2018, with a proposed flat increase of 20 HK cents across all ticket types.
The Star Ferry cited increasing operating costs and the continued decline in both ticket and non-ticket income as reasons for the proposed fare rise.
The Transport Department said it will consider a basket of factors in deciding on the application, adding that related review procedures are expected to be completed in the first half of 2017.
The Star Ferry’s last fare increase dates back to 2012, when it was granted an increase of 30 to 40 HK cents per adult on holiday tickets.
The department has yet to approve or reject Star Ferry’s application last December for a 12 to 18 percent fare increase.
The Star Ferry said there are around 15,000 passengers taking the Tsim Sha Tsui to Wan Chai ferry route daily, representing a more than 30 percent drop from the passenger volume before the relocation of the Wan Chai Pier.
The average passenger traffic on the Tsim Sha Tsui to Central ferry service remains stable at around 39,000 passengers a day.
According to the Star Ferry’s website, it recorded a HK$6.396 million profit before tax in 2014; financial data for last year is not available.
Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, a spokesman for the Coalition to Monitor Public Transport and Utilities, hit out at Star Ferry for filing multiple fare hike applications in recent years.
Tsoi said the company should not have resorted to fare increases even if it is under short-term financial pressure.
Some passengers said a fare hike is acceptable as the ferry service is still the most affordable means to cross the harbor, but others said the proposed rates are too high.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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