On April 3, 2023, Star Ferry, the 125-year-old service operator, commenced their fare hike. With the new fare adjustment, trips aboard the ferry on weekdays for adults traveling on the upper deck of the ferry from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui will now cost HK$5, which is an increase of 56% over the previous price of HK$3.2.
Weekend trips will now cost HK$6.5 instead of HK$4.2, increasing by 55 percent. For weekday journeys, lower deck fares will rise from HK$2.6 to HK$4; for weekend trips, they will rise from HK$3.6 to HK$5.6. The ferry rate for another route from Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui will climb to the same levels at full price for adults.
Depending on the day, route, and deck, the children’s fare will rise from HK$2.8 to as much as HK$3.9. Under the government’s reduced public transportation program, the elderly and those with disabilities will no longer be eligible for free rides and will instead have to pay the $2 concessionary fee. Its monthly tickets will cost HK$190 each, an increase of HK$30 from the initial pricing.
Reason for Fare Hike
This fare increase was implemented due to the century-old transportation and tourist attraction having difficulties sustaining their operations and staying in business over the past few years. An article from Marketing-Interactive even stated that the ferry business had accumulated a loss of HK$70 million dollars. Additionally, according to Star Ferry, its average daily patronage in 2021 was only 26,200. With 53,900 and 49,200 average daily patronages in 2018 and 2019 respectively, it experienced a considerable decline.
Therefore, since 2022, Star Ferry has been making efforts to mitigate the problem and make up for their losses. In order to do that, the ferry business had made an application to Legislative Council Panel on Transportation for a fare increase.
Reactions from Locals
Most locals have expressed that they don’t mind the new fare prices, where some highlighted its cultural significance as the reason.
“The 50% fare hike of Star Ferry is totally fine for me. It’s reasonable to raise the fare for the increasing operating costs, and after raising it by 50%, it’s still an affordable price for most people. Most people including me take Star Ferry just for the vibe so I don’t mind paying a little bit more money.” said Koey Ng, a second-year Early Childhood and Special Education HKU student.
Cherian Leung, a second-year Interdisciplinary HKU student also shared the same sentiment, stating, “Personally, I don’t mind the fare hike for a few reasons. I understand that maintenance for star ferries may have increased over time, and there’s inflation in general, so I think it’s reasonable.”
She also expressed concerns over Star Ferry being able to continue working as it is a ‘cultural heritage of Hong Kong’ and that she has had many memories about it.
Another local, Francis Cheng, a 21-year-old business owner, conveyed similar thoughts saying,
I think Star Ferry is a collective memory, it’s a childhood memory so I think it is important to the society of Hong Kong in some sense and I still want it there I don’t want it to go bankrupt so I guess I’ll still pay for the 50%.”
– Francis Cheng
Feature Image: Andee Capellan