Hong Kong authorities have stopped offering free shuttle buses at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, as the government reveals it has spent about HK$590,000 (US$75,192) on measures to alleviate passenger congestion at the site.
“The government became highly involved with the operations of the cruise terminal this time […] to ensure tourists had a good experience when visiting Hong Kong,” authorities wrote in reply to queries from lawmakers.
“However, it is the government’s view that it should not be involved in such operations, nor should it be using public funds for the terminal’s transport for the long-term.”
The three shuttle bus routes would be replaced by “discounted transportation and shore excursions”, they added.
The suspension of the shuttle buses was announced as cruise ship Resorts World One, which can carry up to 1,856 passengers, was set to dock at the terminal on Wednesday morning.
Authorities launched the additional services after passengers on Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Spectrum of the Seas, complained of long waits for transport such as taxis and buses after disembarking at the terminal on August 4.
Government officials held an emergency meeting with terminal operator Worldwide Cruise Terminal in response to the congestion concerns and introduced shuttle buses to Tsim Sha Tsui, West Kowloon, Admiralty and Mong Kok.
Authorities also ramped up operations for the 22R special bus route and handed out gas coupons to convince taxi drivers to pick up passengers from the terminal.
The government response paper on Wednesday showed authorities had spent about HK$590,000 to provide extra transport services for the seven days cruises docked at the terminal between August 9 and 20.
Authorities said the final costs paid by each party would be settled “based on lease terms with the terminal operator and past arrangements”.
Worldwide Cruise Terminals managing director Jeff Bent last week told a radio show that air and seaports in the city were currently not responsible for handling transport services when asked who should cover the cost.
Tourism chief Kevin Yeung Yun-hung earlier in the month said he would look into how the terminal operator could share the cost of the additional logistics arrangements.