Four hundred public payphones located in MTR stations will soon be removed as the service provider’s contract with the public transport company nears expiration.

A photograph posted to social media on Monday showed a notice near exit A of Tsuen Wan Station that read: “As advised by Shinetown Telecom they will be removing all station payphones as their contract with MTR is expiring.”

A spokesperson for Shinetown Telecom, which operates the 400 payphones, told HKFP that the phones will be removed in around two months.

“As there are ten million mobile phones in use in Hong Kong, there were fewer people using the payphones,” the spokesperson said. Although their absence might inconvenience tourists and some other groups, it was the MTR Corporation’s job to follow up on this, he added.

A notice saying the MTR stations payphones will be removed. Photo: Facebook/Chiu Yan Loy.

An MTRC spokesperson told HKFP that it had invited other service providers for expressions of interest, but no one had tendered a proposal to take over the contract. However, MTRC would still consider proposals put forward, according to the spokesperson.

Chiu Yan-loy, a Labour Party member who posted the notice on his Facebook page, said, “It is the end of an era.”

On the MTR’s website, the page on public payphones said: “Should you need to make a call to your home or office, public coin and phonecard payphones are located on the main concourse areas of all stations, and on the platforms of selected stations.”

Shinetown Telecom, an international communications carrier which was incorporated in 1997, is headquartered in Hong Kong and has offices in Singapore, Australia and Taiwan. According to the company, it is the largest private payphone operator in Hong Kong.

Shinetown first began providing payphone services for the West Rail Line stations in 2003, later expanding the service to all MTR stations in 2009.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.