90pc decline in minibus license premium sparks wave of repossessions – Hong Kong Standard

The market price of a minibus license has plummeted by 90 percent from around HK$8 million to HK$700,000, leading to a number of minibuses being repossessed as the loans run into delinquency or default, the industry said.
The price drop was attributed to the impact of the US continuing to hike interest rates as well as the effects the Covid pandemic had on local minibus operations.
Speaking on a radio program on Thursday, the chairman of the Hong Kong Taxi and Public Light Bus Association, Chow Kwok-Keung, said there are approximately 1,000 red minibuses in the city, with around half currently not in service. 
He said the authorities have towed around 100 light buses, mostly red ones, over the past three years. Reasons for repossession include the death of minibus license owners, but the majority stems from current operational difficulties and the owners' inability to repay the loans.
Chow warned that the lack of government relief measures could lead to more repossessions, with over 100 minibuses at risk within the coming year.
Max, the administrator of a social media page named "Minibus Collections", said the banks have discussed repayment plans with different minibus owners – including taking out a second mortgage on their property, partial loan repayments, or remortgaging to spread the balance over 240 or 300 months – to ease the burden of loan repayments.
The chairman of the Hong Kong Public Light Bus Owner & Driver Association Cheung Hon-wah said the minibus business has declined by 50 percent over the past three years due to the pandemic, and the opening of new MTR lines has significantly impacted their operations in areas like Hung Hom and Kowloon City.
Currently, the rental fees for minibuses have dropped to as low as HK$400 per shift. In cases where the rental costs are unable to balance the expenses, some owners have resorted to defaulting on payments, Cheung added.
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