Rail, bus, ferry and other public transport services offer Hong Kong commuters a
good choice of different transport modes at reasonable fares and different levels of
comfort, speed and convenience.
Rail travel accounts for about 35 per cent of the total daily public transport
volume. The railways in Hong Kong are built and operated by two railway
corporations, the KCRC and MTRCL. The KCRC is wholly owned by the Government.
The MTRCL was formerly wholly owned by the Government but was privatised in
2000 to become a listed company with the Government remaining as a major
shareholder. Both corporations operate on prudent commercial principles providing
efficient, reliable and safe passenger rail services to the public.
The Kowloon-Canton Railway was commissioned in 1910 and was formerly
operated by the Government until the KCRC's establishment in 1982. The KCRC now
runs East Rail (including Ma On Shan Rail), West Rail and Light Rail and provides
feeder bus services and inter-city rail services.
East Rail, which was extended from Hung Hom to East Tsim Sha Tsui where a
new southern terminal opened on October 24, 2004, has 14 stations along the
35-kilometre route from East Tsim Sha Tsui to Lo Wu at the boundary. The railway
carries an average of about 920 000 domestic and cross-boundary passengers daily.
Ma On Shan Rail, which is part of the East Rail Extensions project, opened in
December 2004 to serve the Ma On Shan and Sha Tin areas. There are nine stations
along the 11.4-kilometre route, which carries about 120 000 passengers daily.
West Rail runs from West Kowloon to Yuen Long and Tuen Mun. It started
operation in December 2003. There are nine stations along the 30.5-kilometre route
and the railway carries an average of about 200 000 passengers daily.
Light Rail, which started operation in 1988, provides local public transport in the
northwestern New Territories. Light Rail carries nearly 370 000 passengers daily. There
are 68 Light Rail stops with a network covering 36.15 kilometres. Passengers can
interchange with West Rail at four Light Rail stops.
To allow rail passengers to enjoy better feeder service, the KCRC also runs a total
of 21 bus routes providing services to East Rail, West Rail and Light Rail passengers.
The KCRC provides inter-city through train services from Hong Kong to cities in
Guangdong as well as to Shanghai and Beijing. Apart from passenger services, the
KCRC provides rail freight services to the Mainland.
The former Mass Transit Railway Corporation was established by statute in 1975
to operate the MTR. In February 2000, the Legislative Council passed legislation to
privatise a portion of the Government's shares in the company. The MTRCL was listed
on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong in October that year. The first passenger train
service on the Kwun Tong Line of the MTR began in 1979. The MTR was
subsequently expanded to include Tsuen Wan Line (1982); Island Line (1985); Eastern
Harbour Crossing rail tunnel, which connects the Kwun Tong Line to Quarry Bay
(1989); Tung Chung Line (1998); Tseung Kwan O Line (2002) and Disneyland Resort
Line (2005). The MTR carries a weekday average of 2.5 million passengers. The
company also operates the Airport Express Line (1998), a dedicated rail link between
the airport and the city centre. The Airport Express Line, extended to a new station at
the AsiaWorld-Expo in December 2005, carries a daily average of 27 000 passengers.
The railway network currently operated by MTRCL is about 91 kilometres in length.
Electric trams have been operating on Hong Kong Island since 1904. The
Hongkong Tramways Limited operates six routes on 13 kilometres of double track
along the northern shore of Hong Kong Island between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei
Wan, and about three kilometers of single track around Happy Valley.
The company's 163 trams, including two open-balcony trams for tourists and
private hire and one special maintenance tram, make up the world's largest fleet of
double-deck trams in operation. The tramway has a daily average of 230 000
passenger trips. Fares are $2 for adults and $1 for children aged under 12 and senior
citizens aged 65 or above.
Hong Kong's other tramway is a cable-hauled funicular railway operated by the
Peak Tramways Company Limited from Central (Garden Road) to the Peak. The
1.4-kilometre tramway began operation in 1888 and was modernised in 1989. The
Peak Tram has an average of 12 000 passenger trips a day, mostly consisting of
tourists and local sightseers. One-way fares for adults, children aged under 12 and
senior citizens aged 65 or above are $22 and $8 respectively.
Other Road-based Passenger Transport
The other road-based passenger transport modes — mainly franchised buses,
public light buses, taxis and residents' services of non-franchised buses — account for
64 per cent of all public transport journeys.
Franchised buses are the largest road-based carriers and account for about 35
per cent of the total daily public transport volume. Local bus services in Kowloon and
the New Territories are largely provided by the Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933)
Limited (KMB). At year-end, the company operated 384 bus routes in Kowloon and
the New Territories; 23 and 29 cross-harbour routes jointly with Citybus Limited (CTB)
and New World First Bus Services Limited (NWFB) respectively; and 10 cross-harbour
routes on its own.
The KMB fleet comprised 4 013 licensed vehicles at year-end; 3 750 were air-conditioned
and 1 800 wheelchair-accessible. KMB recorded 1.01 billion passenger
trips (a daily average of 2.76 million passenger trips) which covered 336 million
kilometres during the year. Its fares ranged from $1.60 to $38 for regular routes.
Children aged under 12 and elderly passengers were offered concessionary fares on
all the company's routes.
Local bus services on Hong Kong Island are provided by NWFB and CTB. At
year-end NWFB was operating 53 bus routes on Hong Kong Island, eight in Kowloon
and Tseung Kwan O and 33 cross-harbour routes, 29 of which were operated jointly
with KMB. It had a licensed fleet of 694 buses, of which 693 were air-conditioned
and 532 wheelchair-accessible.
NWFB recorded 183.1 million passenger trips — a daily average of 501 600
passenger trips — which covered 50.9 million kilometres during the year. Its fares
ranged from $3 to $34.20 for the regular routes. Concessionary fares are offered on
all routes to children aged under 12 and elderly passengers.
CTB operates two bus networks under two franchises. One of the franchises
comprises 62 bus routes on Hong Kong Island and 31 cross-harbour routes, 23 of
which are operated jointly with KMB. Another franchise comprises a network of
18 routes plying between the urban areas and North Lantau or the airport.
At year-end, CTB had a licensed fleet of 909 buses, all of which were air-conditioned,
and 115 wheelchair-accessible. The company recorded 207.8 million
passenger trips (a daily average of 569 200 passenger trips) which covered 82.4
million kilometres during the year. Its fares ranged from $2.50 to $48 for the regular
routes. Concessionary fares were offered to children aged under 12 and elderly
passengers on Hong Kong Island routes (except recreational routes) and on cross-harbour
and Lantau Island/airport routes.
The Long Win Bus Company Limited provides bus services between the New
Territories and Lantau Island/the airport. The company made 26.5 million passenger
trips (a daily average of 72 600 passenger trips) covering 24.5 million kilometres
during the year. At year-end, 153 buses were serving a total of 18 routes; all were air-conditioned
and 144 wheelchair-accessible. Fares ranged from $3.50 to $28 for the
regular routes. The company offered concessionary fares for children aged under
12 and elderly passengers on all routes.
The New Lantao Bus Company (1973) Limited mainly provides bus services on
Lantau Island. The company recorded 14.1 million passenger trips (a daily average of
38 500 passenger trips) which covered 5.1 million kilometres during the year. It ran
22 routes with a licensed fleet of 83 vehicles. Its fares ranged from $3 to $40 for the
regular routes. Children aged under 12 and elderly passengers were offered
concessionary fares on all routes.
Bus-Bus Interchange schemes are being implemented to encourage more
efficient use of bus resources and limited road space, and to allow more choice for
passengers. Fare discounts are offered to passengers when interchanging among
designated bus routes. At year-end, a total of 216 Bus-Bus Interchange schemes were
in operation, involving about 470 routes.
Non-franchised bus services perform a supplementary role in the public transport
system. They relieve heavy demand on regular public transport services primarily
during the peak hours, fill the gaps which cannot be met by regular public transport
services and provide tailor-made services to specific groups of passengers. They
mainly serve tourists, groups of residents, employees and students. At year-end, there
were 7 086 registered non-franchised buses of which 6 901 were in operation.
Based on the recommendations of the Transport Advisory Committee's review of
the licensing and regulatory framework for non-franchised bus operation completed
in July 2004, the Government continued to implement measures to improve the
regulation of non-franchised bus operation in 2006. The measures aim at
coordinating the change in non-franchised bus services with demand; strengthening
regulatory control over non-franchised bus operation; and enhancing effectiveness
and efficiency of enforcement actions.
Hong Kong's minibuses are licensed to carry a maximum of 16 passengers. At
year-end, there were 6 220 licensed minibuses. Of these, 4 349 were public light
buses (PLBs), and 1 871 were private light buses. Private light buses are authorised to
carry only group passengers and are not allowed to collect separate fares.
There are two types of PLBs — green and red minibuses. Green minibuses
provide scheduled services with fixed routing, fares, vehicle allocation and timetables
stipulated by the Transport Department. During the year, there were 2 813 green
minibuses operating 352 routes, which recorded a daily average of 1 364 000
passenger trips. Red minibuses are not required to operate on fixed routes or
timetables. They may set their own fares but are subject to certain restrictions on
their operating areas. There were 1 536 red minibuses in operation and they recorded
a daily average of 434 500 passenger trips during the year.
The Transport Department and the Quality Public Light Bus Service Steering
Committee have launched a series of schemes to improve the quality of the PLB
service. To improve communication between passengers, the trade and the
Government, three issues of the PLB Newsletter were published in March, July and
December 2006 respectively. The department also continued to promote and
facilitate the provision of on-board facilities for passengers. As regards safety, the
department and the Road Safety Council held a 'PLB Safety Campaign' in January and
May, in which 29 PLB drivers were commended. Five workshops were held for the
operators and PLB drivers between April and November to improve the trade's
management skills and to remind the drivers about the importance of driving safely.
The department also continued to assist the Vocational Training Council with an
'Advanced PLB Driver Training Course' of the Skill Upgrading Scheme.
Furthermore, all PLBs had installed speed display devices by June. To encourage
the trade to retrofit older PLBs with seat belts, the Transport Department provided the
PLB trade with specifications and plans for retrofitting seat belts and high-back seats
on some older PLB models in September.
The Government introduced incentive schemes in August 2002 to encourage the
early replacement of diesel light buses with vehicles operating on Liquefied Petroleum
Gas (LPG) or electricity. The schemes ended at the end of 2005 and some 2 370
applications had been processed with the grant paid. At year-end, 2 446 LPG PLBs
and 162 LPG private light buses were operating on the roads. One electricity-driven
private light bus was in operation.
At year-end, there were 15 250 red urban taxis, 2 838 green New Territories taxis
and 50 blue Lantau taxis in Hong Kong, and they carried about one million
passengers per day.
To improve the operating environment for taxis, the Transport Department has
extended the temporary arrangement, which was introduced in May 2003, to January
31, 2007 to allow all taxis to pick up and set down passengers during peak hours and
7 am-to-7 pm restricted zones on roads with speed limits of less than 70 kilometres
per hour. At year-end, there were over 230 designated taxi pick-up/drop-off points
and taxi drop-off points. The department will continue to provide taxi pick-up/drop-off
facilities at suitable locations.
The department and the Quality Taxi Services Steering Committee continued to
implement schemes to improve the quality of taxi service. These included updating
the information on the light emitting diode display panels and providing additional
taxi information plates at various taxi stands. It also published and distributed 40 000
copies of Taxi Newsletters to taxi drivers free of charge, and distributed leaflets at the
Airport, Hong Kong Disneyland and Lok Ma Chau Control Point to provide useful
information on taxi services to taxi drivers, passengers and tourists.
Ferries provide essential transport links to outlying islands where no land
transport alternatives are available. They also provide an alternative transport service
within the inner harbour and to other areas in Hong Kong.
At year-end, one ferry operator provided two cross-harbour franchised passenger
ferry services and 12 ferry operators provided 28 licensed passenger ferry services
serving outlying islands, new towns and inner-harbour. These franchised/licensed
services were supplemented by about 75 kaito services, which provided services to
relatively remote parts of Hong Kong.
Ferries recorded a daily average of about 91 900 passenger trips within the
harbour and about 62 300 passenger trips to/from the outlying islands.
Effective transport management is essential for the orderly and safe operation
of the transport system. The Government's regulatory powers are provided under the
Road Traffic Ordinance. Every effort is made to improve the efficiency and
effectiveness of transport management through the use of modern technology in a
variety of areas.
At year-end, there were 1 837 086 licensed drivers, 544 605 licensed private
vehicles and 6 429 government vehicles. There were 359 016 licensed private cars, of
which 25 638 were new vehicles registered during the year. Registered goods vehicles
totalled 122 584, of which 76 118 were light goods vehicles, 42 998 were medium
goods vehicles and 3 468 were heavy goods vehicles. On average, there were 3 682
new learner-drivers per month.
Since the introduction of the Driving-offence Points System in August 1984,
77 871 disqualifications have been ordered by the courts and 782 052 notices served
under the Road Traffic (Driving-offence Points) Ordinance. The figures for 2006 were
3 322 and 47 949 respectively.
Driver Improvement Scheme
Over the past five years, 492 036 drivers incurred Driving-offence Points for
committing scheduled offences under the Driving-offence Points System. Drivers can
join the driving improvement course voluntarily and the court is empowered to direct
a driver who has committed any scheduled offence with five or more driving-offence
points under the Road Traffic (Driving-Offence Points) Ordinance to attend the driving
improvement course. A driver who has satisfactorily completed the driving
improvement course and obtained a course certificate issued by a driving
improvement school has three driving-offence points deducted from his total driving-offence
points already incurred.
From September 2002 to December 2006, nearly 9 000 drivers attended the
driving improvement course. The feedback from the course participants was
encouraging and positive. They found the course very useful in improving their
driving behaviour and attitude. About 77 per cent of the participants did not incur
new driving-offence points within six months of the completion of the course.
Vehicles are examined to ensure they are roadworthy and properly maintained.
Compulsory annual inspection applies to all public service vehicles, goods vehicles
and trailers. In 2006, 194 000 vehicles were examined at the four government vehicle
examination centres. Private cars over six years old and light goods vehicles not
exceeding 1.9 tonnes are inspected annually at 22 designated car testing centres run
by the private sector. These centres conducted 200 000 vehicle examinations during
the year. In addition, 3 500 spot checks were conducted on franchised buses to
confirm their safety, roadworthiness and service standards.
A chassis dynamometer has been installed in the Kowloon Bay Vehicle
Examination Centre to carry out random checks on smoke emissions from diesel
All vehicles imported into Hong Kong may be examined to make sure they meet
statutory requirements before they can be registered and licensed. In 2006, of 619
vehicle types approved, 567 went through a simplified procedure that involved
examining sample vehicles of the same model.
Electronic payment facilities are now available at all vehicle examination centres,
providing additional convenience for users. Vehicle Appointment Status Display
Systems have been installed at the New Kowloon Bay Vehicle Examination Centre in
Kowloon Bay and at the To Kwa Wan Vehicle Examination Centre enabling people to
see which days and times are available for them to book appointments. This can also
be done through the Internet.
Application of Technology
Closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras are installed to enable traffic conditions
at critical locations to be monitored so that action may be taken to ease traffic
congestion where required. At present, there are 168 cameras installed in the urban
areas of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan, Tai Po and North District.
In mid-2006 the Transport Department upgraded its Hong Kong Island CCTV system
by replacing it with a digital CCTV system, the first in Hong Kong. The new system
improves monitoring and reduces operating cost over the long term. There are now
also 85 cameras operating on major highways such as Tuen Mun Road, West
Kowloon Highway, North Lantau Highway, San Tin Highway, Yuen Long Highway,
Tolo Highway, Fanling Highway and roads leading to the boundary crossings.
The CCTV systems' coverage will be extended further to cover Tuen Mun and
Yuen Long. The project is expected to be completed in October 2008.
Images captured by CCTV cameras at 43 strategic locations were first shown to
the public on the Internet in 1999. This was well received, prompting the Transport
Department to install the cameras at 120 locations.
Transport Department went the extra mile in 2006 by setting up a mobile CCTV
system which relayed images on traffic movements instantly to traffic control centres
so that quick action can be taken when traffic is disrupted.
The Transport Department also operates a computerised Area Traffic Control
(ATC) system that is connected to the traffic singalling system in a district, enabling
better control of changing conditions on the road. ATC systems are now in operation
in the urban areas and in the new towns at Tsuen Wan, Kwai Tsing, Sha Tin, Ma On
Shan, Tai Po and North District. Upgrading of the ATC system on Hong Kong Island
was completed in mid-2006. In addition, a contract for the provision of ATC systems
for Tuen Mun and Yuen Long was awarded in 2006 and the system will be in
operation by October 2008.
At year-end, 1 720 signalised junctions were in operation, 1 329 of which are
linked to ATC systems.
Traffic control and surveillance (TCS) facilities, such as CCTV systems and lane
signals, have been provided in all tunnels and in the Tsing Ma Control Area. Variable
message signs, automatic incident detection systems and variable speed limit signs
have been installed or are being retrofitted in some tunnels. Major new roads and
highways, including the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor (HK-SWC), the Deep
Bay Link and Route 8 between Sha Tin and Tsing Yi, will have new TCS equipment.
Automatic Toll Collection
Automatic toll collection (autotoll) systems were first installed at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and Aberdeen Tunnel in August 1993, and then subsequently in all
tunnels and at the Lantau Link. The systems allow motorists to pay tolls by driving
through designated toll booths without stopping. Since October 1998, these autotoll
systems have been unified so that a subscriber needs only one tag to use all tunnels
and toll roads fitted with the system. About 49 per cent of motorists use autotoll
when passing through the tunnels and toll roads.
On-street parking is provided where there is parking demand and traffic
conditions permit. At year-end, Hong Kong had about 17 800 metered parking
spaces with electronic parking meters in operation. The management and operation
of on-street metered parking spaces is contracted out to a private operator.
The Government owns 14 multi-storey car parks and the Sheung Shui
Park-and-Ride Public Car Park, which together provide about 7 800 parking spaces.
They are operated and managed by two private operators under management
contracts with the Government.
In addition to government car parks, off-street public parking is provided by the
Airport Authority at the airport at Chek Lap Kok, the Housing Department and The
Link REIT in some public housing estates, and the private sector in multi-storey
commercial/residential buildings and open-air public car parks. Park-and-ride facilities
are operated by MTRCL at Choi Hung Station on the Kwun Tong Line, at Hong Kong,
Kowloon and Tsing Yi stations on the Airport Express Line, and at some commercial
car parks located near Olympic Station on the Tung Chung Line and Hang Hau
Station on the Tseung Kwan O Line. The KCRC provides park-and-ride facilities at
West Rail Kam Sheung Road Station. In all, there are 195 000 off-street public
parking spaces (excluding those in government car parks).
Traffic accidents involving injury decreased slightly by 1.4 per cent in 2006. There
were 14 849 traffic accidents, of which 2 315 were serious and 135 fatal. This
compares with 15 062 accidents in 2005, of which 2 504 were serious and 139 fatal.
In-depth investigations were carried out at 102 traffic accident blackspots to
identify common accident causes. Remedial measures were recommended at 82 of
To deter red light jumping, the penalties were increased from January 2006 for
ignoring traffic signals. The red light camera systems were also expanded to facilitate
enforcement. At the same time prosecution for traffic offences such as using a
handheld mobile phone or telecommunication device while driving, failing to drive in
the nearside lane of an expressway, and driving motorcycles without the necessary
lights illuminated have been made enforceable by way of fixed penalty tickets.
Road safety campaigns, including the promotion of 'Zero Accidents on the Road,
Hong Kong's Goal', continued to play an important role in reducing traffic accidents.
Other road safety publicity and education work, especially on drink driving and
obeying traffic lights, have continued.