23rd November 2022 – (Hong Kong) In view of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local passenger transport sector, the Government has introduced a series of relief measures under several rounds of the Anti-Epidemic Fund (AEF) to provide financial support (including one-off non-accountable subsidies and fuel subsidies) for the transport sector to tide them over the hardship.
Regarding fuel subsidies under the first round of AEF in 2020, the Government reimbursed one-third of the actual fuel or electricity cost incurred by the five franchised bus companies, 13 franchised and licensed ferry operators and the Hong Kong Tramways Limited (HKT) for 12 months (from July 2019 to June 2020); offered a $1.0 discount per litre of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to LPG taxis and public light buses (PLBs); and reimbursed one-third of the actual fuel cost incurred by petrol taxis and diesel PLBs for 12 months (from July 2020 to June 2021). A total of about $824.69 million of fuel/electricity subsidies was disbursed.
Under the sixth round of AEF in 2022, the Government reimburses 40 per cent of the actual fuel/electricity cost incurred by the five franchised bus companies, 11 franchised and licensed ferry operators and the HKT for eight months (from February to September 2022); offers a $2.0 discount per litre of LPG to LPG taxis and PLBs; and reimburses 40 per cent of the actual fuel cost incurred by petrol taxis and diesel PLBs for eight months (from May to December 2022). Disbursement of the said subsidies is still in progress. As at November 11, 2022, the TD has disbursed a total of about $542.11 million of fuel/electricity subsidies under the sixth round of AEF.
As for kaito services, the Government has provided a one-off non-accountable subsidy of $20,000 per kaito to eligible kaito operators under the second and sixth rounds of AEF respectively, taking into account their different mode of operation from that of other ferry services. The subsidies involved in the two rounds of AEF were about $1.66 million and $1.58 million respectively. Services provided by kaito routes are different from the regular outlying island and in-harbour ferry routes in terms of their nature and operating scale, etc. For example, most kaitos are not public transport modes used by the general public on a daily basis. Many of them are mainly intended for tourism or recreational purposes, where adjustments to their service schedules and frequencies in light of passenger demand are often allowed. While a small number of kaito routes operate with fixed calling points and schedules, they are relatively small in scale compared with other regular ferry services, and their operators are not required to provide the TD with audited financial details, including operating expenditure on fuel and repair and maintenance.
Among the 13 franchised and licensed ferry operators benefitted from the first round of AEF, two licensed ferry operators terminated their ferry services upon expiry of their ferry service licences in 2021, and their ferry routes were taken over by another licensed ferry operator. Hence, only 11 franchised and licensed ferry operators benefitted from the sixth round of AEF.
With the relaxation of the compulsory quarantine requirement on arrivals and the social distancing measures by the Government, the patronage of most public transport modes has been resuming. The government believes hat the business of the transport operators will improve gradually. It has no plan to extend the provision of fuel subsidy at present, but will continue to maintain close liaison with the public transport operators on their operation.