30th May 2023 – (Hong Kong) Five bus companies specialising in public transit services have submitted applications to increase fares, with some proposing significant rate hikes. KMB, Long Win Bus, and New Lantao Bus are proposing an increase of nearly 10%, while Citybus and New World First Bus, which will merge in July this year, are suggesting an increase of HK$2 for most bus routes. Meanwhile, Citybus has proposed a hike of up to 50% for airport bus routes. The two bus companies’ applications were approved by the Transport Department, with most routes seeing an increase of fifty cents to one dollar.
Last year, five bus companies had already submitted applications to raise fares. According to documents provided by the Transport and Housing Bureau to the Legislative Council, the daily passenger volume of the five companies reached 3.8 million to 4 million from 2010 to 2019. However, due to the impact of the pandemic, the number of passengers in 2021 has dropped to only 3.5 million, and last year it fell to 3.1 million. In addition to competition from other means of transportation, rising labor and fuel costs have all contributed to the need for fare increases. Only KMB recorded more than HKD 370 million in profits in the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years, while Citybus (Franchise 2) earned HKD 5.9 million from 2019 to 2020, with the others recording losses.
Long WinBus was the first to apply for a fare increase, proposing an 8.5% hike in early January last year. The last time Long Win Bus raised fares was on May 15, 2011, with an average increase of 3.2% approved at that time. KMB, which is part of the same group, followed closely in June with an application for a 9.5% increase. Its sole-operated routes last increased fares in April 2021, with an actual weighted average increase of 5.8% after considering the relief effect of the tunnel fee fund. As for the cross-harbor routes operated by KMB and New World First Bus or Citybus (Franchise 1), the last fare increase of 12% was implemented in two stages, with an 8.5% increase in April 2021 and a further 3.2% in January last year.
New Lantao Bus and Citybus/New World First Bus applied for fare increases in September last year. New Lantao Bus is proposing a 9.8% increase, the same as the increase in April 2021. Citybus/New World First Bus, which specialises in Franchise 1 bus routes on Hong Kong Island and cross-harbour services, are proposing a uniform fare increase of HK$2. Citybus (Franchise 2), which operates airport and North Lantau Island routes, has not increased fares since its operations began in 1997. However, the company’s latest proposal suggests a 50% increase for its airport service routes A and NA, while other daily and overnight service routes, including B, E, R, S, and N, would see an increase of 23%.