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Dengue Fever

Dear DB residents,

Re: Objection against Tendering out Central – DB Ferry Service

Some of you may have seen that a notice was posted at the ferry pier in late September, seeking the views of DB residents on a proposal by the ferry company, a subsidiary of the developer (HKR), to tender out the ferry service. The notice is easy to miss; it consists of several closely typed A4 pages, with nothing to draw your attention to it.

This proposal is of great importance to all DB residents and owners. The ferry service is a lifeline that cannot be replaced by land transport. It is vital to the residents and owners who either work or school on Hong Kong Island. The comfortable and convenient link to Central also maintains property values.


Several Passenger Liaison Group/City Owners’ Committee members and I played a significant role in diffusing the very difficult negotiations over the future of the ferry service in 2008/09, when HKR proposed a significant “revamp” of the ferry service. At that time we were able to convince the Transport Department (TD) that we needed more transparency on the ferry service operations. TD agreed, and wrote new conditions into HKR’s ferry licence that give TD the power to require the ferry company to publish details of ridership, major cost items, and profit/loss. Unfortunately, to date, HKR has refused to provide the information required under its licence.

At the time of the last fare rise earlier this year, HKR at the last minute threatened to cease operating the ferry service immediately if its application for a fare increase was not approved in full. TD yielded to HKR’s threat, even though the provision of the ferry service is a contractual obligation under the Deed of Mutual Covenant.


Despite HKR’s sorry track record on transparency, I think all of us would agree that the ferry service itself is excellent. Tendering out the ferry service will surely lead to even higher fares, with less control over the quality of service. The operator would need to lease the ferry pier from HKR, and most likely lease the ferry fleet as well. HKR’s licence for the ferry service expires in April 2014. There is no operator in Hong Kong who has the spare fleet capacity, nor is it feasible to acquire a suitable fleet in the short time available. Furthermore, a new operator would have no control over the feeder bus service, which is vital to the health of the ferry.

I personally feel the option is unworkable. It is unclear why HKR is proposing it. What we need is the transparency that was agreed upon with TD years ago. And we have to keep lobbying the Government to treat our ferry service on the same basis as all other island ferries, which means subsidies on fares and fuel amongst others. Further, there is still much that HKR could do to encourage residents to use the ferries instead of the buses, in order to increase both ridership and revenue.


If you have not received the attached consultation paper through your Village Owners’ Committee, I urge you to write direct to Transport Department, should you have any views on this proposal.

 

Please send your reply to:

 

Mr. LI Yiu Man, Louis

Transport Officer/Planning/Ferry 2

Transport Department

40/F, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Email:  louisli@td.gov.hk

Fax:      2824 2176

 

or

 

Mr. HUI Lee Wing

Liaison Officer (Peng Chau/Discovery Bay)

Islands District Office

20/F, Harbour Building, 38 Pier Road, Central, Hong Kong

Email:  lee_wing_hui@had.gov.hk

Fax:      2815 2291 / 2541 4606

If you prefer to send yours views to me, I will forward them to the Transport Department.

By email: awsyung@netvigator.com;

By fax:     2541 5660;

By post:   21/F, Fortune House, 61 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong; or

Mailbox:  At the southern exit of DB Pier.

I have requested TD to extend the deadline of the consultation till 31st October, 2013.

Please feel free to forward this message to your friends and neighbours in DB.

Yours sincerely

Amy Yung

Islands District Council Member (Discovery Bay)