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Executive Council approves Star Ferry's application for fare increases
     The Chief Executive in Council approved today (January 31) The "Star" Ferry Company, Limited (Star Ferry)'s application for raising the fares of its two franchised ferry routes, "Central-Tsim Sha Tsui" and "Wan Chai-Tsim Sha Tsui". The new fares will be implemented on April 3 this year.
     After the fare adjustments, the fares of the two ferry routes will increase by $1.0 to $2.3 per trip (Note 1); and the price of monthly tickets will increase from $160 to $190. The latter has a slightly lower rate of increase than other fare types, so as to lessen the fare burden on frequent commuters. Star Ferry will also replace its elderly free rides with elderly concessionary fares. Eligible elderly people will only need to pay $2.0 per trip under the Government Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme for the Elderly and Eligible Persons with Disabilities ($2 Scheme). Details of the new fares are set out in the Annex. 
     Star Ferry submitted an application for fare increases, seeking to increase the fares of the two franchised ferry services by $1.8 to $4.2 per trip (Note 2) and replace the elderly free rides with concessionary fares for the elderly. Having considered all relevant factors, including the financial position of Star Ferry; forecasts of changes in operating costs, revenue and return; past performance in provision of ferry services; public acceptability of the proposed fares; and measures implemented by Star Ferry to save costs and generate additional revenue, the Government considered that there is a case to support its proposed fare adjustments, but the rate of increase should be moderated to cater for the need of passengers. After the fare increases, Star Ferry is still the most affordable means of cross-harbour public transport, with fares about 30 per cent to 50 per cent lower than MTR or franchised bus fares.
     A Government spokesman said, "Running ferry services since 1898, Star Ferry is a key icon of Hong Kong. In recent years, Star Ferry's patronage has been declining. Aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, its tourist patronage has dropped significantly. Star Ferry has been recording losses since 2018. With its accumulated loss exceeding its total assets, Star Ferry has been relying on debt to run its franchised services. With the easing of anti-epidemic measures, Star Ferry's patronage is expected to recover gradually. Yet the long-term impact of the pandemic remains to be seen. Coupled with rising operating costs of Star Ferry expected, there is a need for Star Ferry to adjust its fares."
     The spokesman continued, "The service performance of Star Ferry has all along been satisfactory. Even when faced with critical financial situation, it has been active in enhancing its service and taking forward various green measures. The Government will continue to encourage Star Ferry to improve its long-term financial sustainability through a multipronged approach in terms of fare level, non-farebox revenue and support from the Government, in order to continue to provide quality services to the public and tourists, and preserve this historical icon with fond memories of Hong Kong."
     The maximum fares that could be charged by Star Ferry are set out in the Ferry Services (The "Star" Ferry Company, Limited) (Determination of Fares) Order (Cap. 104C). The amendment will be tabled at the Legislative Council on February 8 for negative vetting.
     The Government consulted the Legislative Council Panel on Transport on November 25, 2022, and the Transport Advisory Committee on November 28 and December 20, 2022, on Star Ferry's application for fare increases.
Note 1: that is to cap the adult weekday fares at $5.0 and weekend/public holiday fares at $6.5; the average rate of increase is 55.2 per cent.
Note 2: the applied rate of increase is 100 per cent.
Ends/Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Issued at HKT 18:30
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