Earlier this week, you all received a copy of the “modified” proposal that Hong Kong Resort (HKR) has submitted to the Transport Department for approval. The only modification based on a survey that was always skewered towards Option 3 was a minor concession on the fare even though oil prices have meanwhile declined to a level that is comparable with that at the time of the last revamp in 2004. The Discovery Bay ferry service still faces the most radical shake-up in its history with proposals for a 28% fare increase, a 29% cut in the number of daily sailings and the axing of the night ferry.

There is little evidence to support that HKR’s current proposal will restore viability to the ferry service. On the contrary, ridership and the average load factors will only further decrease, making further “revamps” inevitably.

Many of you are under the impression that little or nothing has happened since the “consultation” survey was distributed.

That is not the case. On 16 October, the City Owners’ Committee (COC) endorsed the wording of the petition I initiated at the request of the Passenger Liaison Group (PLG) members. On 11 November, the signatures of more than 4,000 residents were submitted to the Transport Department.

At two more meetings between HKR and the PLG on 30 October and 11 November, HKR further showed an unyielding stance to any suggestion that the proposals ought to be toned down or drastically altered and the wider view of the impact on Discovery Bay be taken into account. HKR’s approach was summed up at the “sharing session” when it presented a slide saying there was a need for a large fare increase due to the “soaring” price of oil. At the time of the meeting, the price of oil was already down 51% from its peak of US$147 per barrel to US$75. By the time of the last PLG meeting, the price has dropped below US$50 per barrel.

On 24 November, the PLG informed the Secretary for Transport and Housing that the submission of the modified proposal did not change its position that it entirely rejected the proposal. A full report on the survey consultation process and a better way forward will be submitted by the PLG to the Secretary early next week.

Whist I continue to fully support the PLG’s effort to engage in a meaningful dialogue with HKR, many of you have requested for an opportunity to add your personal voice to that of your representatives.

I have therefore obtained permission from the Commissioner of Police to hold a peaceful demonstration this Sunday.

Date: 30 November 2008 (Sunday)
Time: 3:00pm – 6:00 pm

The rundown is as follows:

 

 

3:00pm - 3:30pm Demonstration at DB Plaza, speeches from resident representatives and myself
3:30pm - 4:30pm Procession from DB Plaza through walkway to the cycling lane of Discovery Bay Road towards Siena, then turn to Siena Avenue, and the EVA to Central Park
4:30pm - 5:00pm Vigil at Central Park
5:00pm - 6:00pm Return journey to DB Plaza
6:00pm End of procession