A pro-business political party of Hong Kong has urged the MTR Corporation to not increase railway fares next year.

Around 20 members of the Liberal Party gathered at the MTRC headquarters on Friday in protest of the railway company’s planned fare increase. The firm is set to raise ticket prices by 3.14 per cent in 2019.

Tommy Cheung. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“Many people are worried about the economy in 2019, which is reflected in the consumption and overseas travel patterns of Hong Kong people this year,” Liberal Party lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said during Friday’s protest.

“If the economy shrinks in 2019, the income levels and employment of wage earners will be affected. So we are of the view that [the MTRC] should have a fare freeze.”

As the provider of Hong Kong’s major transport system, the MTRC has a social responsibility to halt the plan in order not to increase the financial burden of Hong Kong people, Cheung added.

See also: MTR to pay HK$8m for October delays caused by unexpected signalling system reset

Liberal Party member and District Councillor Dominic Lee said the MTRC is at fault for the increase in railway breakdowns and incidents this year, and thus the resulting costs should not be shifted to passengers. He urged the company to offer discount packages to Hong Kong people instead.

Dominic Lee (centre) at Friday’s protest against the MTRC’s fare increase plan. Photo: Dominic Lee, via Facebook.

The MTRC also came under fire earlier this year for increasing the fares in June, after the railway company reported a net profit of HK$16.8 billion for 2017. 

The fare adjustment system is calculated based on economic conditions and salary levels of the transportation sector, and is controversial for creating more fare increases than cuts.

The MTRC generated more than HK$55.4 billion in revenue last year.

Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.