HONG KONG- The Executive Council of the former British territory has approved a 4.9% fare increase for Kowloon Motor Bus, from March 17. Secretary for Transport & Housing Prof Anthony Cheung announced the decision last February, saying a host of factors were considered in the move, such as operating costs and revenue, public acceptability and affordability, service quality, and the outcome of a formula for a supportable fare adjustment rate under the Fare Adjustment Arrangement.
“We tried to strike a balance. The decision was not easy. We needed to ensure the company could operate on a financially and economically sustainable basis. On the other hand, we had to pay attention to the affordability of the passengers.
“The approved increase rate of 4.9% is far lower than the 8.5% put forth by KMB. It is also lower than the inflation rate of 6.31%, as well as the change in Median Monthly Household Income of 7.14% since KMB’s last fare increase.”
KMB will likely run a deficit in 2012 after settling its accounts, he said.
“Even with the increase of 4.9%, the overall financial situation of KMB will not be completely improved immediately. In addition to staff costs, the main factors that affect operating costs include the fluctuation in fuel prices and cost efficiency of bus routes.”
About three-quarters of KMB passengers will either not be affected by the hike, or will need to pay no more than 40 HK cents extra per trip. About one-quarter of passengers will need to pay 50 to 70 cents more. Passengers using racecourse services will pay $1.10 to $3 more.
There will be no fare increase for cross-harbour routes jointly operated by KMB and another operator.
Prof Cheung said, at present, some routes overlap or are seriously under-utilised, adding it has affected services' operating efficiency and created unnecessary congestion and pollution. “The Government is determined to improve air quality and enhance the efficiency of road resources; therefore, we will vigorously implement bus route rationalisation by an area approach on the basis that bus services play a supplementary role in Hong Kong’s public transport system.”
Prof Cheung said the Government will liaise with District Councils and local communities to garner their support for the largest scale of bus route rationalisation, to increase operational efficiency and reduce congestion and emissions.