Taxi plan treads water

Local | Sophie Hui 20 Sep 2019

Plans for a "water taxi" service to run circularly around Victoria Harbour have been further delayed to the second half of 2020 at the earliest, according to the Transport Department.

It was said last year that the service was expected to launch this month, but Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan had revealed to lawmakers that the commencement of the service has been pushed back.

The news came amid an announcement of a return to operations for the ferry service between Central and Hung Hom.

The department has so far received interest from two parties for running the two ferry services, according to a document submitted to the Kowloon City District Council this month.

The department said it expects to float a tender after consulting with the council.

It hopes the tender can be done by end of this year, so the water taxi service can begin in the second half of next year, while the ferry service can commence in the first half of next year.

After receiving expressions of interest from stakeholders and considering their opinions, the department said it has decided to relax operational requirements for the water taxi to increase its flexibility. The department originally required the operator to provide 22 ferries on weekdays and 19 on holidays and ensure a service frequency of 45 minute.

However, the new requirements only request the operator run at least three ferries a day.

"One of the ferry services must depart from Kai Tak at 7pm or later, so passengers may enjoy the night view of Victoria Harbour," the department added.

There will be five pick-up/drop-off points on the water taxi route, including Kai Tak, Hung Hom, Tsim Sha Tsui East, West Kowloon and Central, with each circular journey lasting for a maximum of 110 minutes.

With both tourists and locals using the service, the department has suggested implementing different charges, such as for round trips, day or half-day tickets and monthly passes.

For the return of the ferry service, the department suggested using the berthing spots at the Hung Hom (South) Ferry Pier and Central Pier No 8 (western berth), with each journey lasting less than 20 minutes.

It also said the ferry service must operate from 7.30am to 7pm Mondays to Saturdays, and from 8am to 6pm on Sundays and public holidays at a 30-minute frequency during rush hours and every hour during non-peak hours.

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