Star Ferry "Silver Star" approaching Star Ferry Pier, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
The "Star" Ferry Company Limited is owned by The
Wharf (Holdings), which has extensive commercial and residential
property holdings in Hong Kong and Singapore and its iconic Star Ferry services are regarded as one of Hong Kong’s most famous heritage and cultural attractions, providing both a remarkably inexpensive method of crossing the harbour and the opportunity for some spectacular views of the harbour and Hong Kong Island and Kowloon waterfronts. The service has operated since 1888 when Dorabjee Nowrojee, a Parsee, started a daily steam boat ferry, Morning Star, which operated between Peddar's Wharf in Pedder Street, Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. The service operated under the name Kowloon Ferry Company and carried employees of Hong Kong and Kowloon Wharf Godown Company across the harbour free of charge and in return, Kowloon Wharf provided the wharf and maintenance of the ferry. The name Star Ferry was adopted in December 1898 when a 40-minute sailing frequency was in operation and the fare was only five cents. During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong the service was suspended for a period of 44 months from December 1941. In 1966, when the company applied for a fare increase from ten HK cents to fifteen HK cents, 27-year old So Sau-chung staged a hunger strike at the Central pier and was arrested leading to widespread protests and riots with about 430 people being arrested and services disrupted. Star Ferry backed down and restricted the fare rise to the first-class section only. The ferry remained the main method of crossing the harbour until the Cross Harbour Tunnel opened in 1972. The original fleet of boats utilised four single-deck coal-fired steam vessels and the current fleet comprises twelve double-deck diesel-electric air-conditioned vessels. The two newest boats "Golden Star" and "World Star" can each accommodate 750 passengers, 200 more than the rest of the fleet.
Current services operate on two routes at intervals from 6 minutes. The routes are;
Central (Central Ferry Pier 7) to Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon Point) - 9 minutes journey
Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon Point) - 8 minutes journey
From 1999 until 2011 Star Ferry also operated two cross-harbour routes between Central and Hung Hom and Wanchai and Hung Hom. Following heavy financial losses on these routes the company did not seek to renew the three-year licence to operate these routes when it expired on 31st March 2011 and no other ferry operator has expressed an interest in taking over the service.
Star Ferry "Day Star"
The new Star Ferry Piers in Central (Central Ferry Piers 7 and 8) opened in November 2006 after closure and subsequent demolition of the Edinburgh Place Star Ferry piers, some 300 metres distant, which had been built in 1957. Demolition was necessary to make way for the six-lane Central-Wanchai by-pass which is now under construction and due to be completed in 2018. The historic clock tower was dismantled with a government promise that it would be restored and displayed nearby and it remains to be seem whether this pledge is fulfilled.
During June 2011 the Harbourfront Commission announced a redevelopment plan for Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier which would involve adding an extra floor to the existing two-storey building and would increase retail space from 385 sq metres to 863 sq metres and provide an additional 1,472 sq metres of dining space. The plan includes a rooftop dining and viewing area with public access. The plan has been generally received as it preserves the original architectural design but no timetable for commencement and completion of the work has yet been announced.
Central Pier 7, location of Star Ferry pier on Hong Kong Island since 2006
The new piers are much more spacious than the old ones and have viewing decks and shops. Central Pier 7 has the prestigious Igors Watermark Restaurant with harbour views. Central Pier 8 which has been closed since relinquishment of Star Ferry's Hung Hom routes (see below) is to be the new location for Hong Kong Maritime Museum which currently operates from leased premises at Murray House, Stanley until expiry of the lease in early 2012. The relocated museum is expected to open in 2013.
The piers at Tsim Sha Tsui and Wanchai are rather more austere but Wanchai Ferry Pier is to be rebuilt as part of works in connection with the Central- Wanchai By-pass.
On the Central to Tsim Tsa Tsui route both upper and lower decks are available to passengers but on the other three less heavily used routes only the upper deck is usually used except at very busy times.
Upper Deck entrance to Star Ferry Pier, Central (Central Pier 7)
Star Ferry Upper Deck Interior
HUNG HOM ROUTES RELINQUISHMENT 2011
Patronage has suffered following relocation of the Central Star Ferry Pier and the Star Ferry currently carries about 38,000 passengers a day on its Central - Tsim Sha Tsui route (down by about 25% since pier relocation) and 20,000 a day on the Wan Chai - Tsim Sha Tsui route. Future patronage is expected to be affected by two years of construction work from 2011 at the Star Ferry Bus Terminus site in Tsim Sha Tsui and redevelopment of Wan Chai Ferry Pier as part of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass infrastructure work. Star Ferry Company earns HK$3.3 million annually from two rooftop advertising billboards at Wan Chai Ferry Pier. Since January 2011 additional revenue has been generated by external advertising on the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier which has given the pier an unfamiliar look. Star Ferry has utilised profits from its two Tsim Sha Tsui routes to subsidise its Hung Hom routes but in September 2010 the company confirmed that in view of falling patronage, competition fron rail operators and harbourfront redevelopment it did not intend seeking renewal of its three-year licence to operate its two Hung Hom routes when the licence expired on 31st March 2011. The two routes, which Star Ferry have operated since 1999, were put out to tender by the government for the service to be maintained but no other operator expressed an interest.
STAR FERRY FLOATING RESTAURANT
In December 2011 The Star Ferry Company's owner, Wharf Holdings, confirmed proposals to convert one of its retired vessels into a floating fine dining restaurant in an attempt to increase its revenues. The lower deck would be converted into a kitchen and the upper deck would be the dining area. The restaurant would initially be located at a harbour pier but may later be moved to the new Central waterfront, currently under construction. The floating restaurant is planned to open in early 2013.
FARES AND SAILING FREQUENCIES
Fares remained unaltered from 1997 until 2009. However, having been unable to absorb substantially increased costs and loss of revenue resulting from a 19% drop in passengers following relocation of the Star Ferry Pier in Central fare increases were approved and staged in two phases effective from 29 March 2009 and 1 January 2010. The increases applied to the Central to Tsim Sha Tsui and the Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui routes and added 30 HK cents to the cost of weekday journeys and 80 HK cents to weekend and public holiday journeys.
In the light of continuing heavy losses, projected future operating costs, revenue and increased costs and the Star Ferry's status as one of Hong Kong's most important heritage and cultural icons, in April 2012 the government approved a further fare rise for weekend and public holiday services. From 24th June 2012, fares on both routes on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays adult fares increased by 40 cents and child and disabled persons fares by 30 cents. The cost of a 4-day tourist ticket was reduced from HK$34 to HK$25 as, since Hong Kong Tramways was sold by Star Ferry's owner, Wharf, to Veolia, it no longer includes tram journeys. In addition, the government has agreed to reimburse Star Ferry for the total revenue foregone, estimated at HK$3.8 million per annum, for offering elderly concessions (free journeys for people age 65 and over) for the period from 24th June 2012 until the end of 2013. Bicycles are allowed only at off-peak times, and only on the lower deck of the Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui route. From 24th June 2012 a bicycle fare of HK$13 (previously free) was introduced.
CENTRAL TO TSIM SHA TSUI (KOWLOON POINT);
Ferries operate at intervals of between 6 and 12 minutes from 06-30 to 23-30 daily.
FARE (SINCE 24th JUNE 2012);
Adult fares Monday - Friday HK$2.5 Upper Deck, HK$2 Lower Deck. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays HK$3.4 Upper Deck, HK$2.8 Lower Deck.
Child fares Monday - Friday HK$1.5 Upper Deck, HK$1.4 Lower Deck, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays HK$2.1 Upper Deck, HK$2 Lower Deck.
Bicycles are not allowed on this route.
WAN CHAI TO TSIM SHA TSUI (KOWLOON POINT);
Ferries operate at intervals of between 8 and 20 minutes from 07-30 to 23-00 daily.
FARE (SINCE 24th JUNE 2012);
Adult fares Monday - Friday HK$2.5 Saturday, Sunday and public holidays HK$3.4
Child fares Monday - Friday HK$1.5 Saturday, Sunday and public holidays HK$2.1
Bicycles (max capacity 10 bicycles or 8 bicycles and 2 wheelchairs) allowed on this route during non-peak hours. HK13
Further timetable information can be obtained from the Star Ferry website;
METHOD OF FARE PAYMENT - by Octopus Card, token or exact coins. Token vending machines are located on the approach to the turnstiles at each pier.
Star Ferry Token Machines. Fares can be paid by Octopus Card, exact coins or tokens
Concourse, Star Ferry Pier, Tsim Sha Tsui
Star Ferry "Celestial Star" at Central Ferry Pier 7
A special Tourist Ticket is currently available at a cost of HK$25 allowing four consecutive days unlimited travel on both the Central to Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui routes.
STAR FERRY'S HARBOUR TOUR
Star Ferry also operate the circular STAR FERRY HARBOUR TOUR daily in the specially adapted “Shining Star” ferry;
Star Ferry "Shining Star" operating the Star Ferry Harbour Cruise