Transport Secretary Frank Chan on Friday played down lawmakers' concerns about the lower-than-expected number of people taking the new express rail line over the border, saying the patronage is still growing.
Legislators noted that the government had predicted around 80,000 passengers a day, but since the line opened on September 23, there have only been around 50,000 on average.
While officials had said they expected Hong Kong residents to account for around half of the high-speed rail passengers, currently they make up only about 30 percent.
But Chan told a meeting of Legco's railways subcommittee that he believes people need more time to come to appreciate the new line to Guangzhou, which links up to the mainland's high-speed network.
Lawmakers also said the MTR Corporation should make it easier and more convenient for people to buy tickets.
In reply, Chan said officials are discussing with mainland authorities whether Hong Kong residents can be allowed to buy train tickets through the mainland website,12306. Currently this service is limited to those who have mainland ID.
Roundtable lawmaker Michael Tien accused the MTR of not doing enough to boost passengers numbers.
He urged the rail operator to offer a free MTR shuttle service for people using the West Kowloon Terminus. MTR officials said they would consider the proposal.
Govt still hopeful of rise in express rail users
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