A fast sleek ferry at the top, and a small kai to at the bottom, two images comparing boat sizes

Fortune launched its Hung Hom-Central route with the Fortune (top), a 34m fast ferry. The actual vessel used today was a 19m kai to, Yau Kee 28 (bottom)

The winner of the Hung Hom-Central ferry contract appears to have downgraded the fast ferry to a small kai to, less than two weeks after the service relaunched.

Route tracks of a boat plying Hong Kong harbour, showing multiple ttacks between Central and Hung Hom pier

Route tracks from Yau Kee 28‘s navigation transponder show the vessel served the Hung Hom-Central route multiple times, raising questions over the operator’s contract pledges

According to government documents, Fortune Ferry Company had pledged two 200-seat ferries with air conditioning and a toilet, and its launch vessel, Fortune, appeared to fit that bill.

But today, just 13 days after the launch, a much smaller boat, Yau Kee 28, was seen in operation at Central pier. Yau Kee 28‘s transponder data confirmed the smaller boat had indeed plied the Hung Hom-Central route multiple times.

In fact, from Fortune’s own submissions to LegCo, Yau Kee 28 is the same type and size of boat put forward as Fortune’s future Water Taxi, a service to launch later this year. Despite her diminutive size (around half the length of Fortune, at 19 metres), the company describes Yau Kee 28 as having “large windows and observation area” while featuring an on-board photographer and “children ship walk education” [sic] facility. Whatever facilities may be on board, the smaller boat appeared to need a removable metal gangplank to connect with the ferry pier.

Neither the Transport Department, which awarded the tender, nor operator Fortune returned calls on the issue.

The new service launched on 28 June, to much fanfare, reviving a route that had been axed in 2011. The ferry runs every 30-50 minutes after 8.30am, and every 40-50 minutes on Sundays and public holidays, although frequency rises to every 20 minutes during the morning peak hour (7.30am to 8.30am, Monday to Saturdays).

The vessel requirements outlined by LegCo in May 2020

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