CB(1) 1033/98-99(04)

LegCo Panel on Transport on 26 March 1999
Transitional Arrangements for the Outlying Island, New Town and Inner-Harbour Ferry Services


This paper informs Members of the progress made in the transitional arrangements for the outlying island, new town and inner-harbour ferry services on 1 April 1999.


2. Following the decision of the Chief Executive in Council in September 1998, the Hongkong and Yaumati Ferry Company Limited (HYF)'s franchised services and the "Star" Ferry Company Limited's Central - Hung Hom service were grouped into eight packages and put out to public tender for operation as licensed services after 31 March 1999. Five ferry operators were selected to operate seven of the eight packages with effect from 1 April 1999 (Details are at Annex A). No bid was received for the package "North Point - Kwun Tong service" and it will cease operation after 31 March 1999.1 Since there are alternative bus and MTR services between North Point and Kwun Tong and the daily patronage on the ferry service is low (about 1,800 daily), there would not be any major problem arising from the route cessation.

3. Since the grant of the ferry service licences, gearing up committees have been set up with the five ferry operators to monitor the progress of their preparation for the changes in ferry operation on 1 April 1999.

Progress of the Transitional Arrangements

4. The progress in five main areas of the transitional arrangements is set out in the following paragraphs.

A. Service Aspects

5. All relevant Provisional District Boards have been briefed on the service details of the licensed ferry operation after 31 March 1999. For outlying island ferry services, the service timetables have been discussed and agreed by the Islands Provisional District Board. The timetables have been finetuned to best balance the demand for more frequent fast ferries by some residents on the one hand, and the demand for more slow but cheaper conventional ferry trips at specific times on the other. The operators will further review the timetables as and when necessary after 1 April 1999.

B. Pier Matters

6. Pier 4 and the western half of Pier 5 at Central have already been handed over to Shun Tak Ferries Limited and Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry Limited (HKK) respectively to make early preparation for service commencement on 1 April 1999.

7. The following piers will change hands after the last service on 31 March 1999/early morning on 1 April 1999 -

    · Yung Shue Wan pier

    · Central Pier 5 (eastern berth)

    · Wanchai (East) (eastern berth) and (West) ferry piers

    · Hung Hom (North) and (South) ferry piers

    · Tuen Mun ferry pier (western berth)

    · Pontoons at Edinburgh Place and Tsim Sha Tsui East

8. For the Yung Shue Wan pier, since HYF will only be able to vacate the site at around 1:00 a.m. on 1 April 1999 after the arrival of the last trip from Central, HKK may not be able to install the electronic ticketing system in time for operation in the morning of 1 April 1999. Manual ticketing system may be used on the first day. However, this would not affect the normal operation of the service.

C. Vessel Procurement and Modifications

9. HYF has committed to purchase two new 200-seat fast ferries for the Central - Cheung Chau service. One of the new ferries "Aquan One" was purchased in January 1999. The order for the second vessel has been placed, with delivery expected in 6-7 months. In the meantime, HYF will deploy an existing 200-seat hovercraft. The improvements of existing vessels, including installation of new air-conditioning and new seats, renewal of deck side panels and deck carpets, are progressing well. Spare vessels will stand by during the first few weeks to provide additional capacity if necessary.

10. HKK is constructing five new vessels for the two Lamma Island services : two 450-seat ordinary ferries, and one each of 100-seat, 200-seat and 400-seat fast ferries. Four of the five vessels are ready for operation before 1 April 1999. The 400-seat catamaran will only be ready in mid May due to late delivery of vessel engines from the United States. However, HKK has purchased twelve fast ferries from the Airport Authority with capacity ranging from about 50 to 300 seats. Some of these will be deployed on the Lamma services as temporary backup and spare vessels. During holidays, one or two additional 200-seat vessels can be deployed from HKK's other operations as necessary. Arrangement has also been made for two ordinary ferries of 400 seats to stand by during the first few weeks of operation to meet any sudden upsurge of demand.

11. The Discovery Bay Transportation Services Limited (DBTSL) will use their existing vessels for the operation of the Central to Tsim Sha Tsui East service. No vessel modification is required.

12. Star Ferry will use three of their existing vessels and one hired vessel for the two Hung Hom services. The hired vessel and one of the existing vessels have been modified to enlarge the air-conditioned compartments. The modification works were completed by mid-March.

13. Shun Tak will operate the Tuen Mun services with their existing vessels. They will need to obtain local licences for their vessels and make new movable gangplanks to facilitate boarding and alighting of passengers. These will be completed before end March.

D. Staff Recruitment /Retrenchment

14. An estimated 340 HYF staff will be laid off on 1 April 1999. The final number may vary depending on the extent of successful redeployment within the Hong Kong Ferry Group.

15. A total of 132 posts were offered to HYF staff by HKK, DBTSL, Star Ferry and Shun Tak through HYF and the two staff unions. So far only 40 staff have turned up for interviews, and 32 qualified staff have been offered appointment. HKK, DBTSL, Star Ferry and Shun Tak have identified suitable people for most of the remaining vacancies from other sources, including the Labour Department and the Vocational Training Council, and are in the process of completing the recruitment arrangements. All vacancies are expected to be filled well before the changeover.

E. Publicity

16. Both the operators and Transport Department have been publicising the new service timetables, fares and pier rearrangements for the ferry services after 31 March 1999. Publicity activities which have taken place include launching of new vessels, issue of publicity pamphlets, press conferences and press releases, and establishment of enquiry hotlines. Notices and signs will be displayed at prominent locations at and near ferry piers for public information. Passengers will be advised to arrive at piers early for their ferry trips. Further publicity arrangements will be made on 31 March and 1 April 1999 to remind passengers of the new arrangements on the ferry services.

Monitoring the Implementation of Ferry Transition

17. An Operation Co-ordination Centre (OCC) headed by a Deputy Commissioner for Transport will be set up on 31 March 1999 to monitor the implementation of the ferry transition on 1 April 1999 and the operation of the ferry services during the Easter Holidays and the following weekday. The OCC will be supported by Pier Observation Teams and Service Monitoring Teams. During the Easter holidays, there will be site operation staff at Central and Lamma Island on 2 April 1999 to monitor the holiday demand for outlying islands services, and a "standby team" on duty throughout the holiday period. The OCC will be activated within one hour should there be hiccups during the holiday period.

18. To cater for any unforeseen emergency situation, the Transport Department has liaised with other operators and arrangements have been made to ensure uninterrupted services for outlying islands.


19. Progress on the transitional arrangements has been satisfactory so far. We do not expect any major problem on the date of changeover on 1 April 1999.

Transport Bureau
19 March 1999

Annex A

Operators of Licensed Ferry Services effective from 1.4.1999

HYF (existing operator) Central - Cheung Chau
Central - Mui Wo
Central - Peng Chau
Kowloon Point - Cheung Chau (Saturday afternoons, Sundays and Public Holidays only)
Kowloon Point - Mui Wo (Saturday afternoons, Sundays and Public Holidays only)
North Point - Hung Hom
North Point - Kowloon City
Hong Kong & Kowloon Ferry Limited (HKK) Central - Yung Shue Wan
Central - Sok Kwu Wan
Shun Tak Ferries Limited (ST)Central - Tuen Mun
Central - Tuen Mun - Sha Lo Wan - Tai O (Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays only)
The "Star" Ferry Company Limited (SF) Edinburgh Place - Hung Hom
Wan Chai - Hung Hom
Discovery Bay Transportation Services Limited (DBTSL) Central - Tsim Sha Tsui East

1 After the close of tender, two operators expressed interest in operating the North Point - Kwun Tong service. A separate tender exercise was conducted in January 1999. Only one tender was received, but the tenderer failed to fully meet the basic requirements and the licence was eventually not granted.