The government will extend the $2 fare subsidy scheme to those aged between 60 and 64 from 27 February 2022, with those estimated 600,000 people required to register for a JoyYou personalised Octopus to enjoy the subsidies.
And while those over 65 can still use their existing anonymous elderly cards, they will be required to register for JoyYou from an as-yet undetermined date, probably 2023 to 2024. “We will announce the date later, we will have a target date two to three years from now,” said Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong.
Law stressed that the new concession was only for Hong Kong residents, and that tourists and mainlanders would not be eligible to apply. “A key concern was that we wanted to extend the eligibility age but avoiding abuse by non-residents,” he said.
The government has also decided against limiting or capping the use of the card, despite some arguing that elderly were “abusing” the system by using their concession cards on long-haul buses but only travelling a few stops.
Law said using the elderly concession card for short hops on long-haul buses should not be seen as “abuse” but he would “appeal to beneficiaries to try to consider the use of public money and use other services where convenient.”
“If we had a cap or other way of doing that, it will make the process very complicated,” he said. “We will discuss with operators the idea of section fares,” he said.
The scheme will also be rolled out to red minibuses, trams and kaitos.
While those in the red minibus business have complained the application process to join the $2 scheme is too complicated, Law said the government needed to balance prudent use of public money with ease of application. Red minibuses taking part in the scheme will need to provide audited reports on a regular basis.