Hong Kong franchised bus companies – Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB), New Lantao Bus (NLB), Citybus, and New World First Bus (NWFB) are going to raise the bus fares. From April 4, commuters will have to pay as much as 12 per cent more for bus rides.
Executive Council gave the approval for the rise in bus fares to Citybus and NWFB. This would be implemented in two phases: the first 8.5 per cent increase be effective on April 4 and a further 3.2 per cent in the first month of 2022.
While KMB and NLB are allowed to raise the commuting fares, the level of adjustment would be different. The former would increase only by 8.5 per cent while the latter would increase by 9.8 per cent. Both arrangements will also be effective from April 4.
The Executive Council vetted the fare increase applications under the Fare Adjustment for Franchised Buses and evaluated the changes in operating costs and revenue. The Legislative Council Panel on Transport and the Transport Advisory Committee’s views were also considered.
There has been a continuous decrease in the number of bus commuters. The implementation of remote workplaces and schooling under the pandemic had made it more difficult for the bus companies. There has been a drastic drop in the revenue for the bus operators. They are facing severe financial difficulties, the Government added.
After considering the public’s acceptability and affordability, the Government decided to give green light to the rise in bus fares. About 90 per cent of passengers will pay no more than $1.50 extra per trip upon implementation of the new fares as shown in the government statistics.
However, Hong Kong citizen’s incomes are showing a downward trend in the prevailing economic environment. There has been an increased unemployment rate to the high level of 6.4 per cent and a poverty rate of 21.4% in 2020. The fare rise of one of the major public transportations inevitably increases the living costs of the general public, especially the low-income households.
In response, a relaxation of the monthly threshold under the Public Transportation Subsidy Scheme from $400 to $200 and the monthly subsidy cap will be raised from $400 to $500 to lighten the financial burden of the grassroots when facing the increase in transportation costs.
Furthermore, beneficiaries – the elderly and eligible passengers with disabilities who are enjoying a concessionary fee will not be affected. The $2 per trip on public transportation under the Government Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme still stands despite bus fare rise.