30th May 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Chief Executive in Council (CE in C) has approved fare increase applications from Hong Kong’s franchised bus operators, with implementation set for 18th June, 2023. The decision comes after the CE in C considered the fare increase applications, taking into account the service nature and existing fare levels of the routes, and made adjustments to effect relatively lower rates of increase on routes for daily commuters.
The fare increase rates vary by operator, with Long Win Bus Company Limited and Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited operating at 4.2% and 3.9% actual weighted average rates, respectively, after mitigation by their Franchised Bus Toll Exemption Funds (TEFs). Citybus Limited (Franchise for the Airport and North Lantau bus network) will increase fares by an overall actual weighted average rate of 4.2% after a 2.2 percentage points mitigation effect by its TEF, while New Lantao Bus Company (1973) Limited fares will increase by an overall weighted average rate of 7.0%. Citybus Limited (Franchise for Hong Kong Island and Cross-Harbour bus network) and New World First Bus Services Limited will increase fares by an overall actual weighted average rate of 4.9% after a 1.3 percentage points mitigation effect by their TEFs.
Upon the implementation of new fares, about87% of passengers are expected to pay no more than $0.5 extra per trip, and almost all passengers are expected to pay no more than $1 extra per trip. The Government has also implemented the non-means tested Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme (PTFSS) since 2019 to relieve the fare burden of passengers who travel on local public transport services for daily commuting and whose public transport expenses are relatively high. A portion of the fare increase for PTFSS beneficiaries could be subsidized by the scheme.
The CE in C has taken into account a basket of factors in assessing the bus fare adjustments, including changes in operating costs and revenue since the last fare adjustment, forecasts of future costs, revenue, and return, the need to provide the bus operator with a reasonable rate of return, public acceptability and affordability, and the quality and quantity of service provided. The outcome of the supportable fare adjustment rate formula was also taken into consideration, although it is only for reference and will not operate as an automatic determinant of the rate of fare adjustment.
The Government spokesman emphasised that the fare increase rates have been set at relatively mild levels, and the franchised bus operators should continue to invest in improvement in their bus services, including upgrading passenger facilities and safety equipment, transitioning to zero-emission bus fleet, and enhancing remuneration package and working environment for their workforce. The Government will also continue to encourage and assist them in increasing non-fare revenue and enhancing operational efficiency of the bus services.