TAC finds room for improvement in MTR fare adjustment mechanism

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Fare adjustments should better reflect public concerns over the relationship between fare rises and the railway giant’s profitability, the Transport Advisory Committee says.

The Transport Advisory Committee (TAC) has called on the government to better reflect public concerns during reviews of the MTR Corporation Limited’s (MTRCL) fare adjustment mechanism, one day after a fare rise was announced for seven consecutive years.

In a statement, Larry Kwok Lam-kwong (郭琳廣), the TAC chairman, said: “Members agree that there is room for the operation of the FAM to better respond to public concern about the relationship between the [Fare Adjustment Mechanism] and MTRCL’s profitability, as well as passengers’ affordability.… We hope that the Government and MTRCL would seriously consider the views collected in the public consultation exercise, and conduct the review in a pragmatic manner.”

The government launched a three-month public consultation on the review of the FAM on 20 May. It also secured an agreement from the MTRCL to advance the joint review, originally due for completion in 2018, by one year. The current FAM takes into consideration the Consumer Price Index, the nominal wage for workers in the transport sector and a 0.6% productivity factor for 2013 to 2017. It is widely criticised for not taking into account the corporation’s profitability, which stood at a net HK$13 billion last year.

The MTRCL announced a general fare rise of HK$2.65 yesterday (30 May) with effect from 26 June. Earlier, in an annual general meeting, chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang (馬時亨) warned that dividend payouts may be cut if fares go down.