MTR won't hike fares this year amid Covid-19 outbreak

February 20, 2020 17:46
MTR Corporation has launched special relief measures to help the Hong Kong public cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the city. Photo: Bloomberg

MTR Corporation announced on Thursday that it will not raise fares throughout the year and will cut rents by half for February and March for small and medium tenants in all its stations and shopping malls.

The moves are part of the special relief measures the rail operator is launching to help the Hong Kong public in coping with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the city.

“Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in January, the corporation’s revenue from the various train services, station commercial businesses and MTR Malls have been severely affected," MTR chief executive Jacob Kam said in a press release.

"However, we also see tremendous pressure on different sectors of the society and some of the small to medium tenants are having difficulties to stay afloat. As a member of the Hong Kong community, we hope to do the best we can to support the community during the difficult times."

For MTR fares, the existing “3.3% Rebate for Every Octopus Trip” promo valid until April 4th will be extended to the end of June for passengers to continue to travel with the existing fares.

The existing prices of the “MTR City Saver”, all five types of “Monthly Pass Extra”, and the “Tuen Mun-Nam Cheong Day Pass” will also remain unchanged until the end of June, the company said.

Under the Fare Adjustment Mechanism, MTR is allowed to adjust its fares based on the year-on-year percentage change of the Nominal Wage Index (transportation section) for December 2019 and other relevant figures to be released later this quarter.

However, the company said it has decided that through fare rebates or other arrangements, it will not make any fare adjustments for the whole of 2020.  

Detailed arrangements will be announced by the end of March when the statistics are published. Once the plan is implemented, Octopus fares would have stayed the same from January 2019 to the end of 2020, MTR said.

For retail outlets in all its train stations and 13 shopping malls, MTR will offer small to medium tenants a half-month reduction of their rents for February and March this year.

"Large corporate tenants will also be supported but will be considered on an individual basis subsequently," the company said.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the rail operator has been severely affected by the months-long anti-government protests that have roiled the city since June last year.

It said earlier it expected a fall in its 2019 profit in view of the drop in passenger numbers and massive vandalism to its train stations and facilities.

Costs related to the social unrest – including concessions to retail tenants in its station kiosks and shopping malls, as well as the hiring of additional staff and security – could reach HK$1.6 billion, MTR said in a stock exchange filing last December.

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