Speech at Panel on Transport

Briefing by the Secretary for Transport and Housing on the Chief Executive’s 2017 Policy Address

Introducing Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme

Referring to the Administration’s proposal to introduce the Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme (“the Scheme”), Mr Micheal TIEN expressed that the scope of the Scheme should cover red minibuses (“RMBs”) and non-franchised buses providing residents’ services (“RS”). Mr TIEN urged the Administration to explore feasible options to include RMBs and RS under the Scheme so that commuters who travelled frequently by these two modes could also benefit. Mr CHAN Chun-ying  concurred with Mr TIEN’s view.

To avoid abuse by parallel traders, Mr Michael TIEN suggested that commuters must pay the fares of cross-boundary trips with Personalised Octopus cards in order to benefit from the Scheme and it should be stipulated that each commuter would be entitled to subsidy under one designated Personalised Octopus card only. Mr LAU Kwok-fan and Mr CHAN Chun-ying made similar suggestion.

STH advised that the proposed Scheme aimed at adopting a simple and convenient approach. Any additional restrictions would inevitably complicate the Scheme, increase the administrative costs and cause inconvenience to the commuting public. STH further advised that based on the actual usage data of Octopus cards, commuters who spent over $2,000 per month on public transport expenses amounted to a small four-digit number only. The chance of abuse would be slim under the proposed Scheme since the commuters would still have to pay for the first $400 of the monthly public transport expenses, and 75% of the expenses exceeding that. The subsidy was also subject to a maximum of $300 per month.

Introducing “Franchise Taxis” and regulated online hailing services

Noting that the Administration would decide whether to explore other new services (such as regulated online hailing services) depending on the outcome of the scrutiny of the proposal on franchised taxis by the LegCo, Mr CHAN Chun-ying asked about the factors for considering whether to explore other new services. In response, STH advised that the introduction of franchised taxis had got the general support by LegCo. The Administration was preparing the legislative work. STH further said that introducing franchised taxis through a franchise model was to overcome the limitations of the existing taxi operation model in ensuring the overall quality of taxi service in a sustained fashion. The introduction of franchised taxis with higher service standards might help encourage the ordinary taxi trade to improve the quality of ordinary taxi service.