In response to feedback from the community, Discovery Bay Transportation Services Limited (DBTPL) has revised its proposal replacing some of the late-night ferry sailings between DB and Central with double-decker bus services. The revised proposal to the Transport Department (TD) is open for public consultation until August 30.
In a statement on May 21, Hong Kong Resort (HKR) summarised the feedback to the initial proposal, which was sent to more than 8,000 DB households last October: “Among the opinions collected, residents commented positively to the current ferry services. However, they realised the substantial environmental benefit of the plan, the dire financial situation and operation difficulties faced by the ferry operation, and the importance of maintaining sustainable transport operations for Discovery Bay by rationalising the extremely under-utilised overnight ferry services with efficient overnight bus services. This would avoid trimming on the day-time ferry service or implementing a significant fare rise. Meanwhile, residents pointed out that modifications to the last ferry departure time and fare level are necessary.”
The revised proposal preserves the existing DB-bound 12.30am weekday sailings and the 1am weekend sailings. For Centralbound services, it preserves the existing 12am weekday sailings and 12.30am weekend sailings. Only four roundtrip ferry services – between 1am and 5am – have been replaced by more frequent bus services. DBTPL has also pledged to provide additional overnight ferry sailings to coincide with special
events and festive holidays, subject to demand.
Furthermore, the overnight bus fare for residents has been reduced from the proposed HK$42 to HK$38. The revised proposal also cancels the existing overnight surcharge of HK$17 for residents onboard the remaining ferry sailings between midnight and 6am. In addition, the proposed overnight bus fare for residents – HK$38 – is HK$12.50 cheaper than the HK$50.50 residents’ overnight ferry fare.
The overnight bus service
In responding to DBTPL’s original proposal, residents were concerned that the proposed bus service would increase door-to-door travel time. However, the overall journey time by bus and ferry is comparable because the buses run more frequently. Eight daily overnight ferry sailings are replaced by 16 bus trips on weekdays and 14 bus trips on weekends. The overnight buses depart at 20- to 30-minute intervals between 12.50am and 2.05am, and at 50- to 60-minute intervals between 3am and 5.50am.
Test runs conducted by DBTPL have the trip between Central and DB North Plaza taking 32 minutes. While the bus route covers around 70% of DB households, connecting bus schedules for villages not directly along the route will be synchronised. On the DB-bound route, buses start from Pier 3 (which will remain open for passengers to use the bathroom and seating facilities) and call at Connaught Road Central, the Lantau Link Toll Plaza and the DB Tunnel Toll Plaza. Within DB, they call at DB North Plaza and a number of bus stops along Discovery Bay Road, terminating at Coastline Villa. The Central-bound buses follow the route in reverse, with an additional stop at the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal.
According to DBTPL, the DB ferry has been operating at an accumulated loss of over HK$230 million since 2002, with the daytime ferry operation subsidising the under-used nighttime operation, which generally as a passenger load of between zero to 46 passengers per trip. While the revised proposal could go some way to alleviating these costs, there’s also an environmental bonus. According to an environmental consultant about 80% of the current greenhouse gases emitted by four overnight ferry round-trips would be eliminated if the revised proposal is implemented.
Residents are welcome to provide their comments on the revised proposal on or before July 31.
Tags: transport, ferry, overnight bus services