MTR Corporation announced on Wednesday that fare discount offered to “early bird” passengers will be extended for one more year, and that the program will cover more stations and also become more rewarding for the commuters.
The fare discount benefit for people who take trains earlier in the morning, a special scheme that was due to expire at the end of this month, will be extended to the end of May next year.
Also, the program is being widened in terms of the rail stations being covered. Apart from that, the discount will become bigger in a few months from now.
Under the current “Early Bird Discount Promotion” program, Octopus card holders are qualified for a 25 per cent fare discount when they exit from any of 35 designated stations between 7:15 am and 8.15 am from Mondays to Fridays, except public holidays.
From October, the discount will go up to 35 percent, while the number of applicable stations will increase to 44, including the nine from Lok Fu Station to Yau Tong Station on Kwun Tong Line, the MTR said.
The initiative comes after the rail operator, which is set to raise fares by 3.3 percent from June under a fare adjustment mechanism, decided last month to extend the concession period for Octopus card users to early April 2020 from January that year.
According to Jeny Yeung Mei-chun, MTR’s commercial director, the new concession cannot take effect immediately because MTR needs some time to adjust its systems to cope with the changes, so the concession will be implemented in October the soonest.
MTR chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang said expansion of the early bird discount program is to divert passenger flow at morning peak times so as to ease congestion at stations, and as more vacant seats have been observed during non-rush hours in the mornings.
Yeung pointed out that the amount of concessions offered by MTR this fiscal year will be HK$3.5 billion in total, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Welcoming the latest decision of MTR, lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, who is a member of the Legislative Council’s railways subcommittee, estimated that about 30,000 people in Hong Kong could benefit from the expanded program.
Tien believes passenger traffic will be down 10 percent between 8:15 am and 8:45 am, a period when MTR stations are normally the most crowded during rush hours in the morning.
Ben Chan Han-pan, a lawmaker from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and the chairman of the Legco’s Panel on Transport, also welcomed MTR’s move, but suggested that the rail company extend the applicable stations on West Rail Line to cover those between Mei Foo Station and Tsuen Wan West Station as well.
In other news, Jacob Kam Chak-pui, who took over as MTR’s chief executive for a three-year term starting April 1, told media that the Tai Wai to Hung Hom Section on the new East West Corridor that is scheduled to open in the middle of this year will not see all stations commence services at the same time, but only in phases.
MTR is still studying details of related arrangements, Kam said.
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