LCQ19: Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme for the Elderly and Eligible Persons with Disabilities
Under the Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme for the Elderly and Eligible Persons with Disabilities (the Concession Scheme), eligible persons may travel on public transport modes, such as general MTR lines and franchised buses, at any time at a concessionary fare of $2 per trip. On the premise that the public transport operators concerned will continue to absorb the cost of the fare concessions that they voluntarily offer to the elderly and persons with disabilities, the Government will provide them, on an accountable basis, with subsidies of the amounts equivalent to the fare differentials between the nominal fares and $2. On the other hand, two-way section fares are currently applicable to a number of franchised bus routes. A passenger who travels on such routes and alights at or before a certain bus stop will receive partial fare reimbursement if he pays the fare with an Octopus card on boarding and taps the same Octopus card on alighting. Moreover, a "two-section fare" charging model has been adopted for some franchised bus routes. For example, a passenger who travels on the Yuen Long-bound No. B2 bus route is required to pay fares for two sections if he boards the bus before the Tai Tao Tsuen bus stop and alights at or after that bus stop. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether, under the Concession Scheme, the financial arrangements between the Government and franchised bus companies regarding the franchised bus routes to which two-way section fares are applicable are different from those between the two parties regarding other franchised bus routes; if so, of the details; regarding those bus rides for which section fares of less than $2 are charged, whether the Government is required to provide subsidies to the franchised bus companies concerned; if so, of the method used for calculating the subsidies;
(2) of the current number of franchised bus routes to which two-way section fares are applicable, and set out in the table below the following details of each route: (i) name of the franchised bus company, (ii) route number, (iii) full fare, (iv) starting points of sections, (v) end points of sections, (vi) Octopus section fares, (vii) amount of subsidy per trip under the Concession Scheme, and (viii) average monthly number of passenger trips that were subsidised in the past 12 months;
|Stanley Prison, Tung Tau Wan Road||Stanley Village||$2.7|
|Stanley Village||Repulse Bay Beach, Repulse Bay Road||$4.6|
(3) regarding each of the routes to which two-way section fares are applicable, in the past 12 months, (i) among the passenger trips for which fares were paid with adult Octopus cards, of the percentage of those passenger trips for which only section fares were paid, and (ii) among the passenger trips that were subsidised under the Concession Scheme, of the percentage of those passenger trips for which only section fares were paid; and
(4) regarding the franchised bus routes for which the "two-section fare" charging model has been adopted, how the Government calculates the levels of fare subsidies under the Concession Scheme it is required to provide to the bus companies concerned?
The Government Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme for the Elderly and Eligible Persons with Disabilities (the Scheme) has been implemented by phases since 2012 with an aim to help build a caring and inclusive society by encouraging the elderly and persons with disabilities to participate more in community activities. The Scheme enables the elderly and eligible persons with disabilities (PwDs) to enjoy a concessionary fare of $2 per trip to travel on the general Mass Transit Railway (MTR) lines, franchised buses, ferries and green minibuses (GMBs). Under the Scheme, which is administered by the Transport Department, the participating public transport operators (the operators) are reimbursed the revenue forgone (i.e. the difference between the applicable fare and $2) as a result of implementing the Scheme on an accountable and reimbursement basis. Having consulted the Transport Department, my reply to the question is as follows:
(1) According to the principle of the Scheme, the operators under the scheme have to continue to absorb the cost of existing concessions that they are voluntarily offering to the elderly and eligible PwDs. For routes with concessionary fares (including two-way section fares), the amount of reimbursement would be calculated based on the actual applicable fare (i.e. after deducting concessions offered voluntarily). If the actual applicable fare for a journey is below $2, the elderly and eligible PwDs would only need to pay that actual applicable fare, and the Government is not required to reimburse any fare differential under the Scheme.
(2) and (3) At present, there are 38 bus routes with Octopus two-way section fares. Details of these routes are set out in the Annex. In 2017, the average daily passenger trips made on buses under the Scheme was 544 000. In 2017-18 revised estimate, the Government's reimbursement of the revenue forgone to the operators under the Scheme is $1.1 billion. Currently, bus companies do not have information regarding the data of passenger trips enjoying two-way section fares.
(4) The Transport Department notes that the current Octopus payment system of New Lantao Bus Company (1973) Limited (NLB) is unable to cater for partial fare rebate at the time of alighting to facilitate two-way section fare collection. The "Two-level fare" mode of operation is thus adopted whereby the fare is divided into two parts and passengers are required to pay at the points of boarding and alighting respectively. The bus company has put in place a special arrangement for the beneficiaries under the Scheme who are only required to tap their Octopus cards upon boarding regardless of their destinations, i.e. to pay $2 once, and the Government will only reimburse the fare differential between the fare applicable for the first section to those passengers and $2.
Ends/Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Issued at HKT 18:00
Issued at HKT 18:00