Octopus users spared MTR fare hike until early April 2020

April 25, 2019 15:57
Amid public concern over the fare hike, MTR decided to extend the concession period for Octopus card users to 40 weeks until early April next year. Photo: HKEJ

MTR Corp., which is going to raise fares by an average of 3.3 percent from June, has decided to extend the concession period for Octopus card users.

The concession period for Octopus card users has been extended to 40 weeks until early April 2020, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Originally, when the fare hike was announced in March, MTR said the 3.3 percent rebate for Octopus card holders was only for six months until January next year.

In papers submitted to the Legislative Council on Wednesday, the rail operator said it has decided to extend the rebate period in consultation with the government amid public concern over the fare increase.

MTR said the extended concession period is also a way to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary of serving Hong Kong people this year.

It estimated that the total concessionary amount would cost the company more than HK$400 million.

Meanwhile, the government said in a press release that it has requested MTR to consider favorably offering more fare concessions to the public while taking into account its financial viability.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said he is pleased that the company has responded to public concern and set aside additional resources to extend the 3.3 percent rebate, allowing the fares paid by around 5 million Octopus users to remain unchanged for 40 weeks.

Still, some lawmakers were not impressed by the extension.

Lawmaker Ben Chan Han-pan from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), who chairs the Legco’s Panel on Transport, pointed out that while extending the concession period showed MTR is responsive to the demand of a certain number of passengers, the existing fare adjustment mechanism is still problematic and the government and MTR should jointly review it.

Calling the extension at least better than nothing, Roundtable lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, who is a member of the Legco’s railways subcommittee, urged MTR to come up with more “realistic” measures, including applying its “early bird discount promotion” to all of its stations and raising the existing 25 percent discount under the promotion to 50 percent.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, also a member of the Legco’s railways subcommittee, said MTR’s decision was clearly made under great pressure from members of the public.

Lam also asked MTR and the administration to immediately start a review of the fare adjustment mechanism.

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