Transport Department launches eco-friendly ferries to boost outlying island connections

395

27th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) Transport Department heralded a new era of maritime travel today, revealing the maiden voyage of three state-of-the-art ferries that will soon begin servicing key outlying island routes. The vessels, which are the first to be introduced under the Vessel Subsidy Scheme’s initial phase, will commence operations in March 2024, connecting Central with Cheung Chau, Mui Wo, and Peng Chau.

During a ceremonial launch, the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Lam Sai-hung, underscored the government’s commitment to enhancing the public’s travel experience and advancing environmental stewardship through the VSS. “With the introduction of 22 new ferries under the Scheme’s first phase, we are stepping forward together with industry partners to elevate the standard of ferry services for our community,” Mr Lam stated.

The Transport Department announced today that the first batch of three fully government-subsidised new vessels procured under Phase I of the Vessel Subsidy Scheme will be gradually deployed to provide services from March this year. Photo shows the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Lam Sai-hung (fourth right); Deputy Director-General of the Department of Economic Affairs of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Mr Lyu Feng (fourth left); the Deputy Commissioner for Transport (Transport Services and Management), Ms Macella Lee (first right); the Deputy Director of Marine, Mr Shi Qiang (first left); the Chairman of the Legislative Council Panel on Transport, Mr Chan Han-pan (second left); Member of the Legislative Council for the Transport Functional Constituency, Mr Frankie Yick (second right), and representatives from the Sun Ferry Services Company Limited and Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry Limited at the launching ceremony of the new vessels.

A spokesperson for the Transport Department elaborated on the VSS’s objectives, highlighting the dual goals of augmenting fleet quality and promoting green travel. The forthcoming ferries boast an array of passenger-centric features, including breastfeeding areas, pet-friendly seating, and a significant increase in wheelchair-accessible spaces and facilities. Additionally, passengers will benefit from on-board mobile phone charging stations.

Constructed from lightweight materials such as aluminium alloy and carbon fibre, the new craft are designed to trim vessel weight, thereby enhancing efficiency. They are also fitted with cutting-edge engines that meet the International Maritime Organisation Tier III standard, considerably curbing nitrogen oxide emissions.

This initiative, first announced in the Chief Executive’s 2019 Policy Address, aims to subsidize a full fleet replacement across 10 ferry routes with more environmentally sustainable and well-equipped vessels. The first phase will see 22 new ships serving six major routes to outlying islands, with around half of the fleet expected to be delivered by the end of the current year. The scheme represents a significant step in Hong Kong’s journey towards a greener, more connected future for its waterborne transport system.