A subsidy collection point at an MTR station in Hong Kong. Photo: RTHK

Hong Kong commuters on Saturday became eligible for a monthly subsidy of up to HK$300 (US$38) under the government’s Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme.

All commuters who spend more than HK$400 per month using their Octopus card on public transportation, including MTR (Mass Transit Railway), franchised buses, trams, green and designated red minibuses, and ferries can get the subsidy, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) reported.

The government will give the commuter the equivalent of 25% of the amount spent in excess of HK$400. For example, if a commuter spends $500 a month, she will get a subsidy of $25 (25% of the $100 in excess of $400).

No registration is needed to be eligible for the program. People can collect the subsidy for the previous month via the Octopus App or at more than 1,800 collection points around the city, including MTR stations, Light Rail customer service centers, designated ferry piers, and any 7-Eleven, Circle K or Wellcome outlets from the 16th of each month. The subsidy will be credited to the commuter’s Octopus card automatically if he or she is qualified to receive it.

The subsidy for each month is valid for collection within the next three months. Hence members of the public can collect the subsidy for January at any time between February 16 and May 15.

The government announced the subsidy early this year as part of an effort to relieve the burden of commuters with high transportation expenses.

Commuters may check their record of public transport expenses and subsidy amount through the website of the Subsidy Scheme (www.ptfss.gov.hk), which provides translations in various languages including Indonesian, Hindi, Nepalese, Tagalog, Thai and Urdu, as well as the Octopus App and the hotline of the Subsidy Scheme at 2969 5500.

To encourage commuters to get the subsidy at convenience stores, 7-Eleven and Circle-K have offered a HK$10 cash coupon for people who collect the money at their stores before February 27.

However, it was understood that many people who went to 7-Eleven stores failed to get the coupon because of a breakdown of the computer system on Saturday morning, Apple Daily reported. The convenience-store chain said too many people went to their stores in the first 30 minutes after the program kicked off, causing the overload of the computer system. The company advised commuters to keep their receipts so as to get the cash coupons later.

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