The MTR Corporation will offer concessionary fares on November 3 and 4 as compensation for the recent severe delays.

On October 16, commuters across four MTR lines experienced delays for over six hours. On Monday, the MTRC said that – as compensation – passengers using adult Octopus cards will only have to pay concessionary child fares – half price or a similar amount – this weekend. Those who already enjoy concessionary fares will pay HK$1 per trip.

At a Legislative Council panel meeting, MTRC Operation Director Adi Lau said that the scheme will cost more than HK$30 million. He did not mention whether there would be any limits or conditions for the concession scheme.

“We are very sorry for affecting residents because of the October 16 incident. The concessionary scheme is a small token of goodwill,” Lau said.

In explaining why the concessionary scheme will not be conducted on a weekday, Lau said: “The premise of such concessionary schemes is the safe and orderly operation of the railway service. On a weekday, 5.8 million passenger trips are made. During peak hours, passengers have to wait for several trains at some stations.”

“We have conducted a risk analysis and believe that there will be instability caused by extra passengers, if we were to conduct this concessionary scheme on a weekday.” he added.

Adi Lau. Photo: LegCo.

Lau said that more than eight million passengers could benefit from the scheme this weekend.

‘Oil on fire’

Civic Passion lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai heavily criticised the scheme.

“Are you treating Hongkongers as kids? For top management like you, what else is in your head other than money? Don’t you think this arrangement is like pouring oil on fire?” he said. “Why don’t you choose the first day of the Lunar New Year? Why don’t you choose February 30?”

“Did the government think about conducting a free ride day so that Hong Kong people can at least be happy for a day?” Cheng asked Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan.

Chan said the scheme was arranged by the MTRC and not by the government, meaning that a potential punishment for the MTRC will be a separate matter.

“No act of goodwill will be adequate to compensate the negative effect on passengers. Regardless, it’s better to do it than not, it’s better to do more than less,” Chan said.

Frank Chan. Photo: LegCo.

Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong lawmaker Priscilla Leung asked Chan if it was possible to deduct commissions and bonuses from MTR directors’ pay after railway incidents.

Chan said he would not rule out a review of the punishment mechanism, if the current arrangement was inadequate.

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.