Welfare Secretary Law Chi-kwong said that expanding the eligibility for the discounted fare will benefit about 600,000 people.
The concessionary fares are already offered on the MTR, buses, green minibuses, and ferries. The government said the scheme is also being extended to cover rides on Transport Department-approved red minibus, kaito and tram routes.
To take advantage of the HK$2 concessionary fare though, eligible people will need to first apply for a ‘JoyYou’ card – a personalised Octopus card that bears users’ Chinese and English names and their photo – in order to counter abuse of the scheme.
Applications for the card will open in phases from August 2.
Law said there are no plans to limit the use of the JoyYou card despite concerns that some elderly may take more expensive long-route buses even when they are only travelling a short distance.
“One of the issues that was raised is that some people who use this discount scheme [will] take a long-haul trip or bus, like a cross-harbour bus, and yet they are not crossing the harbour, they just take two to three stops, just because they are more convenient,” he said.
“We will try to discuss with the operators and see how routes can be arranged, and they can be charged, whenever it is possible… by sections, rather than for the whole trip.”
But transport expert Hung Wing-tat said concerns about abuse remained.
“Say for example some people who look after the elderly, they can quite easily get the elderly cards. It would be difficult to stop them from using it,” he told RTHK.
“It’s hard to imagine every turnstile in the MTR system would have CCTV to actually compare the identity with the user.”
The welfare secretary also said the government has set aside HK$280 million for issuing the JoyYou cards, adding that they will replace the existing elderly Octopus cards in future.
Hung said that would bring inconvenience to senior cardholders.
“A lot of them are linked to the bank, either credit card or their direct bank account. It means they have to go through trouble again to link this new card to their bank,” he said.
“I hope Dr Law can think about the trouble that he may cause to the existing user and find ways not to trouble them at all.”
Last updated: 2021-06-30 HKT 21:39