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Reporters: Dora Chiu, Joyce Lee and Raymond Tse

Editor: Katherine Chan

Behind the wheel of time – the history of Hong Kong’s cross-harbour ferries

How to cross Victoria Harbour? These days you could opt to take a bus, a taxi, a train or to drive. But in the past there was only one answer – you had to take the ferry.

Before there were cross-harbour tunnels and the MTR, cross harbour ferries were the only ‘bridge’ between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. They carried passengers, as well as vehicles, between the two sides of Victoria Harbour every day. Three ferry companies, the Star Ferry, the Hongkong and Yaumati Ferry (HYF), and the New World First Ferry, have provided ferry services through the years.

The emergence of cross harbour tunnels and the MTR had a huge impact on cross harbour ferry services. Add to that, the relocation of piers due to reclamation work meant that ferry services could no longer maintain their glory days. In face of enormous challenges, ferry companies struggled to survive. The HYF gave up its business in 1999, and the Star Ferry had to cancel some routes. For example, the Hung Hom routes were suspended on April 1, 2011.

Here, we trace the development of Hong Kong’s cross harbour ferry services. The old photos will give you a taste of what it was like before ferries vanished from our daily life.

Apart from the photos taken by Varsity , some photos appear courtesy of the Star Ferry Company, Hong Kong Ferry (Holdings) Co. Ltd. and Alan Cheung Shun-kwong.

Check out the timeline of Hong Kong’s cross-harbour ferry services:


  1. there is high development i the Hong Kong because up till now other countries still have the ferries and are in most cases the favorable means of transport. But i wonder how islands are accessed (that is if there are any). And should i say that the ferry services no longer exist?

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