Stacy Shi

The government will try its best to keep the age requirement and public transport coverage under the HK$2 elderly fare concession scheme unchanged, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun Yuk-han vowed.

This came after the government said it is reviewing the financial sustainability of the HK$2 Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme which cost taxpayers HK$4 billion last year and is expected to increase by 50 percent to HK$6 billion this year.

But Sun reassured citizens that the government will not cancel the scheme by any means and would complete the review within this year.

”The HK$2 concession scheme is a benevolent policy as it significantly facilitates elderly citizens, as they travel not just for work or visiting friends. It is also important for their mental and physical health,” he said on a TV program yesterday.

”We will try our best to keep the existing age requirement and coverage of the scheme as people are already used to the current arrangement.”

At the same time, various proposals have also been put forward by the political sector and the community, such as setting a ceiling on the monthly allowance per person, raising the fare from HK$2 to HK$4 or HK$5, or replacing the fixed fare amount with a discount fare, as well as excluding cross-boundary bus routes.

Responding to whether the government would consider the proposals, Sun said they are willing to collect public opinions but have to rely on actual data. “Starting August 25, all elderly enjoying the concession must use the JoyYou Card – a real-name registered card with their photos on it. We will also have to collect more data before making a decision,” he said.

He added that the government will also launch more publicity on how to make the best use of the concessions, for example, to avoid taking short rides in long-distance routes.

He believed that the vast majority of Hongkongers are civic-minded, and the public knows that making good use of the concessions can help the government save expenditure.

”If they know that only tapping one more time will save the government’s expenditure, I believe the elderly will be willing to help so that good policy can be maintained.”

As for abuses, Sun said non-eligible persons using HK$2 cards are breaking the law and the government will enhance efforts to combat abuse.

The government has detected 1,419 suspected abuse cases of the scheme in the past five years, including on the MTR, buses and ferries.

The Transport Department has enhanced joint enforcement actions with public transport operators since June 2023.

As of the end of February this year, around 350 joint enforcement actions were conducted across 650 routes with about 2,360 persons inspected for suspected abuse. Two cases were found, including a 49-year-old man who was fined HK$14,000 for violating the rule 18 times.

stacy.shi@singtaonewscorp.com

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