The government had mentioned such a fare subsidy scheme in the policy address. The DAB has always pushed for shuttle buses and red minibuses to also be covered by the scheme. As the government has announced, not only did they accept our suggestion on this issue, they have broadened it even further by adding employee shuttle buses and kaitos to the scheme. We are very encouraged by this and welcome this decision wholeheartedly.
According to DAB Legislative Councilor Lau Kwok-Fan, after he consulted with members of the public transport industry, he understood that the majority of shuttle buses were able to meet the requirement of the scheme. As for red minibuses, currently only 30% of such minibuses have run fixed routes and installed Octopus card readers. Around 80% of industry representatives expressed a willingness to be added into the scheme and to follow its regulations and hoped that they will be ready to follow the scheme after one year’s preparation. The government should provide support to the industry in regards to installing octopus readers and applying scheme. Lau Kwok-Fan reiterated that the government should promote the conversion of red minibuses to green ones and as this would allow for better monitoring and governance.
DAB Legislative Councilor Ben Chan stated that kaitos are in a similar situation to red minibuses, as a number of them have Octopus readers, but this is not yet widespread. He adds that even though kaitos are now covered by the scheme, they are not covered by the $2 fare scheme. He said: “this is still a good start as it affirm the importance of these public transport options. The government should continue to build on this policy foundation and extend the $2 fare scheme to these transportation and allow more people to take advantage of them.”
Also, both Lau and Chan said that they hope the opposition camp will not mix up partisan politics with quality of life issues like this. They said that the opposition should not filibuster this motion during debate and allow this policy to be adopted quickly in order to cut down on the financial burden of commuters. Lau added that the Octopus company is the biggest winner in this subsidy scheme and that they should face up to their responsibility in society while enjoying their windfall profits by providing support and expertise in installing octopus readers and offering fare concession. Both Lau and Chan are also going to meet with representatives from the Octopus Company and discuss related issues.
DAB Legislative Councilor Lau Kwok-Fan (9782 7408)
DAB Legislative Councilor Ben Chan (9274 7035)