HONG KONG - The government announced on Thursday that the universal transport subsidy proposed in Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s first Policy Address in 2017 will be available from February.
Hong Kong residents, whose monthly public transport expenses exceed HK$400, can collect the subsidy at designated service points, Commissioner for Transport Mable Chan Mei-bo said
Hong Kong residents, whose monthly public transport expenses exceed HK$400, can collect the subsidy at designated service points, Commissioner for Transport Mable Chan Mei-bo said on Thursday.
Under the Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme, every eligible commuter’s subsidy amount is 25 percent of actual expenses above HK$400 – and is capped at HK$300.
Officially coming into force on Jan 1, commuters will be able to claim their first subsidy with their Octopus cards from Feb 16.
The applicable fare payments include fares of the Mass Transit Railway, franchised buses, green minibuses, ferries and trams paid by Octopus cards, Chan said.
Some routes of red minibuses, kai-to (small ferries), non-franchised buses approved by the Transport Department are covered as well, she added.
There is no means test as the government opts to “keep it simple”, Chan explained.
Residents can collect the subsidy by tapping their Octopus cards on special card readers in various locations, including 94 MTR stations, five light rail service centers, 22 ferry piers, all 7-11 and Circle K stores, Wellcome supermarkets and about 50 Octopus card service points around the city.
The previous month’s subsidy will be set aside from the 16th of each month, only valid within three months. Otherwise residents cannot get it back, according to Chan.
Chan noted commuters can enjoy various existing public transport fare concession schemes and the upcoming subsidy scheme at the same time.
Monthly public transport expenses recorded on each Octopus card will be calculated separately, added Chan.
According to official estimate, the scheme will bring benefits to around 2.2 million people in Hong Kong. It will cost HK$2.3 billion each year.
Ben Chan Han-pan, a lawmaker and a member of the Legislative Council's Panel on Transport, believes requirements for eligibility are a little high and more residents should be covered by the scheme.
Chan suggested HK$400 should be lowered to HK$200 and the maximum amount of the subsidy be increased to HK$600.
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