First Ferry fare increases unnecessary?

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    following email from Living Islands Movement (see below), correctly noting First Ferry has excessive air conditioning, so has scope for significant fuel cost cuts, just sent following email to First Ferry and Transport Dept re proposed fare increases:

    Dear Sir:

    I am a Cheung Chau resident, and wish to protest against proposed ferry fare increases.

    Though I appreciate fuel costs are increasing, I believe First Ferry is not doing all that is possible to cut costs or increase revenue.

    First, as pointed out by the Living Islands Movement, air conditioning on ferries is often intense – even on warm days, it can be downright chill, even cold almost like a fridge, on ferries. (Fast ferries can have such problems, especially near air conditioning vents [at times, I’ve noticed others looking cold, and adjusted thermostats; but the “deluxe” class on slow ferries can be far worse – can get cold just walking through to/from outside deck.)

    Then, even though First Ferry has monopoly on transport service to Cheung Chau, and is important for Peng Chau and Lantau, I believe the company does only a very poor job of promoting the islands to visitors from both Hong Kong and overseas: this is despite the company serving excellent destinations for visitors, who could surely boost revenues during slack periods.
    [Yet First Ferry does promote Macau ferry service – we keep seeing a real boring Macau ferry promotion shown on board ferries.]

    Yours sincerely,

    Dr Martin Williams

    LIM email (includes the email addresses I used) is:

    Dear members and friends

    Please read below and take action by writing letters/mails to First Ferry, Commissioner for Transport and the press, and pass this on to your friends who live in Peng Chau, Cheung Chow and Mui Wo and those who want to stop wasting energy (see below for contact details) . Thanks!

    First Ferry are seeking fare increases. This should not be approved until they stop wasting fuel on excessive air-conditioning. To maintain a temperature of 20 degrees in their cabins when the outside temperature can be 33 and in direct sunlight must gobble up fuel.

    It’s said that a rule of thumb is that increasing one degree saves 10% of fuel. If they raised it from the present 20– 22 degrees to a comfortable 22 to 24 degrees, is it possible that they would save enough fuel to make fare rises unnecessary?

    It is up to them to produce an analysis of this and other operating procedures before the passengers have to pay more for their inefficiency!

    New World First Ferry : fax 2131 8877 or [email protected]

    Commissioner for Transport (fare increase requires his approval) : Mr WONG, Chi-kong, Alan Fax: 2824 0433 or [email protected]

    This mail is from the Living Islands Movement – LIM.

    Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/10/07 00:22


    in follow-up email from LIM:

    Some members found that it would get quicker response if you write to “1823 Citizen’s Easy Link” than to write directly to Transport department. It’s a “one-stop service to provide 24-hour access for members of the public to enquire or complain about the services of participating departments”. If you haven’t sent email to Transport Dep yet, send it to [email protected] .

    And could we also ask you to write to the Legco Panel on Transport, please?

    Chairman LAU Kong-wah
    Email address: [email protected]
    Fax:2530 3869
    Office address: Room 523A, West Wing, Central Government Offices, Hong Kong

    Deputy Chairman Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Email address: [email protected]
    Fax:2417 9985
    Office address: 9A, G/F, Wing Hong Building, Fok Loi Estate,Tsuen Wan, New Territories


    Here’s a reply emailed from First Ferry:

    Dear Passenger,

    Thank you for your opinion regarding the cabin temperature.

    According to our records, cabin temperature of vessels has been normally
    kept in the range of 22oC to 24oC in accordance to the company guideline.
    We noted that there might be occasions when the temperature fall or rise
    beyond the prescribed range, please be assured that First Ferry would
    enhance onboard inspection to ensure a comfortable cabin and service
    consistency and our staff onboard would be pleased to offer assistance to

    In response to your suggestions and the changing weather, First Ferry has
    recently adjusted the thermostats onboard to a temperature range of 24oC to
    25oC. First Ferry would closely monitor the public acceptability of the
    change and keep the situation under review to ensure a comfortable cabin.

    Since service commencement in 2000, the operating environment has been tough
    for First Ferry. Though the effectiveness of fuel saving has yet to be
    studied, First Ferry appreciates invaluable comments from your goodself and
    will continue to explore possible measures on cost saving and revenue
    generation in order to improve financial viability of the ferry operations.

    With a view to alleviating the pressure of fare rise, First Ferry has
    introduced a series of cost-saving and revenue-generating measures in the
    past years. To reduce operating cost, First Ferry introduced various
    measures such as repairing vessels in places where the cost is comparatively
    low to save maintenance expenses, hedging oil prices, adjusting pay scale of
    new recruits to market levels, implementing service rationalization and
    introducing automatic payment system.

    First Ferry has also implemented a spectrum of revenue-generating measures
    including the offering of “Island Hopping Pass” privileged tickets, the
    launch of round-trip tickets to attract tourists to the outlying islands,
    the introduction of Joss House Bay Service during Tin Hau Festival, ferry
    charter service, the provision of pier-top advertisements and expansion of
    rental income. We concur with your goodself that tourists help the ferry
    business, however, to promote tourism, support from HKSAR Government and
    other relevant bodies are pivotal. As a ferry operator, First Ferry is
    committed to the provision of a safe and comfortable sea journey to the
    commuting public and plays an ancillary role in tourism promotion. Since
    commencement of service, First Ferry has been actively coordinating with
    relevant parties to promote islands to tourists. To name a few, we launched
    the abovementioned “Island Hopping Pass” and participated in various
    travel expos to promote the islands and took part in various joint
    promotions with the Hong Kong Tourism Board and other local parties.

    Yet, these efforts First Ferry were offset by continuous surging operating
    costs made while at the same time, It is expected that there will be no
    ssignificant increase in income generated from ferry tickets . Owing to
    these factors, First Ferry must adopt a fare rise to reduces losses and we
    hope that passengers would understand the urgency and necessity for the fare

    Thank you for the invaluable comments that allow First Ferry to serve the
    commuting public better.

    Yours sincerely,
    Donna Kong
    Customer Service Division
    New World First Ferry Services Limited

    To which I’ve just responded:

    Hi Donna:

    Thanks for your response to my comments.

    Ferry temps seem ok to me now. 24-25 C would seem better temp for summer too – it seems silly to have to consider taking warm clothes around during hot weather, because ferries might be chill.

    Good to learn First Ferry has done some tourism promotions. More can be done I think; remember Hongkongers are tourists too when on fun trips to islands (and are not targeted by HKTB – which is not great at promoting tourism outside city). Not sure if can also manage a day pass that includes other services, such as a meal, perhaps a simple souvenir.
    For Lantau, may take some work to keep Mui Wo service in public eye given transport (inc coming skyrail) from Tung Chung. But I’d recommend travel via ferry to Mui Wo, then bus, as best way to Ngong Ping.

    Best regards,

    while here’s a reply from govt:

    Further to our email of 10/10/2005, we have referred your case to the
    Transport Department for follow up and their reply is as follows :

    Thank you very much for your valuable comments on NWFF’s fare increase

    In assessing the fare increase application, Transport Department will take
    into account a basket of factors, including the financial position of the
    ferry operator, performance of the ferry operator, increase in operating
    cost, public affordability and acceptability of the proposed fare increase,
    and alternative cost cutting and revenue generating measures to improve the
    financial circumstances of the operator including your suggestion of
    reducing the energy consumption by raising the temperature of
    air-conditioned passenger cabin of NWFF’s ferry vessels.

    Transport Department fully understand the concern of the public on the fare increase, and will take a deliberate approach in processing such

    Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.

    Carol Au
    Customer Service Supervisor
    1823 Citizen’s Easy Link

    Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/11/13 23:59

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