Date
21 October 2017
MTR Corp. chairman Frederick Ma said the amount and coverage of the subsidy for passengers are still being worked out. Photo: HKEJ
MTR Corp. chairman Frederick Ma said the amount and coverage of the subsidy for passengers are still being worked out. Photo: HKEJ

MTR in talks with government on public transport subsidies

MTR Corporation has started talks with the government on a proposed plan to roll out fare subsidies to passengers using the dividends from the government’s shareholdings in the company, chairman Frederick Ma said.

At present, the government holds a 75 percent stake in the rail operator, and receives about HK$4 billion in stock dividends from the company every year, hk01.com reports.

Speaking in a radio interview on Wednesday, Ma said Chief Executive Carrie Lam has already made a decision to implement the subsidy plan.

During the election campaign, Lam had promised to allocate some of the government’s dividends from the MTR to ease the burden of long-distance passengers.

Ma said details such as the amount and coverage of the subsidy are still to be worked out by the government, but he assured the public that current MTR concessions will continue regardless of the extra subsidies.

The proposal “will definitely be put into action”, he said.

Besides MTR, Ma said he believes the subsidy plan will cover all other means of public transport, otherwise the rail operator cannot cope with the overload in capacity.

As for the operating rights of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, Ma said he is confident the government will hand it to MTR. About 700 people will be needed to run the rail link.

Ma said he is optimistic that a formal agreement can be entered into in the foreseeable future, although he cannot guarantee that will take place in one to two months’ time.

With the cross-border rail link set to become operational in the third quarter of 2018, Ma said the progress of the construction is satisfactory, although the co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon terminus has yet to be finalized.

The co-location scheme will help Hongkongers to reach mainland cities, such as Guangzhou and Beijing, in a more efficient and convenient manner, he said.

If it is shot down, the economic efficiencies of the rail link would be significantly reduced, he added.

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EL/YH/BN/CG

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