24th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) Star Ferry Company Limited has recently submitted a proposal to the Harbourfront Commission, suggesting a complete reconstruction of the iconic Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier, which has a history of over 65 years. According to the design plans, the new pier will feature a modern glass structure, with the ground floor and first floor serving as boarding decks for passengers. To enhance accessibility, the proposal includes the addition of escalators. The second floor of the pier is planned to be a scenic observation deck, divided into sections for a marketplace and dining area. Additionally, there are plans to expand the second-floor outdoor platform, incorporating a commercial street that will extend to cover the Tsim Sha Tsui Pier Bus Terminus, along with the construction of a pedestrian footbridge connecting to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.
In conjunction with the pier reconstruction proposal, Star Ferry Company Limited has also requested the relaxation or removal of commercial restrictions. This includes expanding the designated commercial areas at the Central Pier and opening up the observation deck at the Wan Chai Pier. The proposal suggests increasing the number of annual activities in each designated area from the current limit of 24 to 60, as well as extending the cumulative number of activity days from 60 to 180 days.
Star Ferry Company Limited believes that certain areas of the Central and Wan Chai Piers can be transformed into marketplaces or cultural event spaces, allowing more businesses to establish themselves and generating additional non-ticket revenue. This initiative aims to strengthen the nighttime economy. Furthermore, the company has proposed organising the “Joyful Winter Harbourfront Carnival” in the fourth quarter of this year. The event will feature numerous stalls offering specialty food, handicrafts, and musical performances, with an estimated daily attendance of around 10,000 visitors.
Star Ferry Company Limited has faced financial challenges since the onset of the pandemic. They were granted a fare increase starting from April of this year, with adult fares for the Tsim Sha Tsui to Wan Chai or Central routes ranging from HK$4 to HK$6.5 per trip. Additionally, the free ferry service for seniors aged 65 and above was discontinued. Government documents reveal that the cost structure of Star Ferry Company Limited lacks flexibility, primarily due to employee costs, vessel maintenance and operation expenses, and fuel expenditures. Therefore, cost-saving measures have limited impact. To ensure long-term financial viability, Star Ferry Company Limited is relying on a three-pronged approach, which includes fare adjustments, non-ticket revenue generation, and government subsidies, to develop a sustainable operational plan.