Hong Kong’s iconic Star Ferry has hiked bicycle fares on its Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui route 15%, to $19.20, or six times the usual adult rate, under a new fare structure.
People with bicycles must now pay $16 for the bicycle, on top of the full adult fare ($3.2 or $4.2 on weekends and holidays), making a total cost of $19.2 for weekdays and $20.2 for weekends and holidays. The fares were last raised in 2017.
The same trip by MTR would cost $8.2 and by GogoX van around $120.
Martin Turner, chairman of Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, questioned the increasingly high cost of taking a bike on the ferry route.
“Star Ferry demands five times the standard fare just to take a bike onto their otherwise empty lower deck, while other operators ask only 1-2 times,” he says.
Particularly irksome, according to users, is that bicycles are only permitted when there are no other passengers on the lower deck, with the firm offering no exact guidelines on when someone with a bike will be turned away. In response to questions, Transport Department (TD) says bikes are not allowed when there is high passenger demand, citing “Monday to Friday around 5pm to 7.45pm and during occasional special events when there is high passenger flow.”
The company also limits the number of bikes to 10, which users say is a pain during busy times and which Turner calls “pointless”, given that the lower deck is empty of passengers.
Turner also pointed out that the Star Ferry’s other main service, between Central and TST, “is the only ferry route within or to/from Hong Kong that actually prohibits bikes.”
He says the firm must step up its environmental commitments: “Star Ferry talks about its low-emission ‘green ferry’ but is resistant to carrying bikes on those ferries. It doesn’t make any sense – this sort of contradictory thinking is certainly not going to help Hong Kong meet its 2050 carbon targets”.
The “Star” Ferry Company did not respond to questions. During recent government fare negotiations, the company revealed an annual profit of around $4 million. The firm has been touting its environmental credentials lately, with a new hybrid electric vessel partly funded by the government’s New Energy Transport Fund.