Paying for Star Ferry… with a token?


The iconic Star Ferry, one of the top tourist rides in Hong Kong (the Peak Tram and regular tram being the two others,) has launched a new method of payment.

Introduced over the last few months are Star Ferry tokens. You can spot the new token vending machines standing just outside the turnstile gates in Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hung Hom and Wanchai.

Are they necessary?


A vast majority of locals pay for the ferry via the ubiquitous Octopus card. Tourists tend to use the two other payment options: a manned desk where you can pay and receive change; and an exact-fare option of dropping coins into a turnstile overseen by a worker.

The tokens seem to be aimed at travelers, however, I’ve literally had to push tourists through the turnstile when they didn’t understand how it worked. I don’t know whether the token machines will do much good, but perhaps they will cut down on the long lines that occasionally form from tour groups. Another more likely possibility is that they’re looking to cut staffing costs by phasing out the exact-fare coin drop and replacing it with the token machines instead.

The tokens themselves look strikingly similar to the small dark green plastic tokens you find on the Shenzhen Metro system.


  • We have that system in Toronto. They also offer tokens and the other method of payments as noted above, of course not the Octopus Card. I found it confusing the first few times when taking the subway. Personally I don’t think that’s a very effective method.

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