SEE ALSO OPEN-TOP SIGHTSEEING BUS TOURS
Hong Kong has an extensive network of public bus services covering almost all areas of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories and Lantau Island.
The operation of bus services can be traced back to the 1920's when, in 1921, the Vehicles and Traffic Regulation Ordinance set out the fares, stopping points and bus specifications for four bus routes serving Kowloon. The first franchises were awarded in 1933 to China Motor Bus Company Ltd and Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited (KMB). The third franchised bus company was New Lantao Bus Company (1973) Ltd which has operated franchised services on Lantau Island since 1979. In 1991 Citybus Limited, which since 1979 had operated a shuttle service for United Services Dockyard workers with a single bus and, later, some residential services, was granted a franchise for operating one Hong Kong Island bus route and further routes from 1993 and 1995. In
1998 CMB's history of operating bus services came to an end when New
World First Bus Services Limited (NWFB) won the tender to operate 88 routes
previously operated under CMB's franchise.
In 1996, with the opening of the Lantau Link serving the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok, Long Win Bus Company Limited and Citybus were awarded the franchises to operate services for airport and North Lantau routes and in April 2012 the government confirmed that new ten-year franchises to operate these routes from 2013 had been awarded to the existing incumbents Long Win, Citybus and NWFB.
Currently Hong Kong's franchised bus network is made up of about 600 routes, operated under six franchises by five franchised bus companies with a total fleet of 5,743 licensed buses (at end of 2012), comprising 5456 double-deck and 287 single-deck vehicles. Franchised buses make over 80,000 journeys daily with a patronage of about four million passenger journeys daily. The number of buses and routes has declined slightly since 2003 under the Transport Department's Bus Service Rationalisation Plan to enhance the efficiency of the bus network by avoiding unnecessary overlapping of routes and reducing frequencies to take into account passengers increased choice of transport with the opening of new railway lines as well as reducing congestion and pollution. Services to most areas are frequent and operate from early morning to around midnight. Many routes pass through the cross-harbour routes linking Hong Kong Island with Kowloon and cross-harbour route numbers are prefixed to identify which tunnel they use. Prefix "1" indicates Cross Harbour Tunnel, "6" Eastern Harbour Crossing, "9" Western Harbour Crossing. There are also night services to many areas which are prefixed "N", recreational services (usually special Sunday and public holiday services) prefixed "R" and shuttle (usually frequent circular) services prefixed "S".
Buses are generally modern (mostly double –deck), clean and well maintained. All buses are air-conditioned, since KMB phased out its few remaining air-conditioned buses on 8th May 2012. Double-deck buses were first introduced into Hong Kong in 1949 and most of the current fleet are 12-metres length but on some difficult routes shorter double-deckers of 10 or 11-metre length are used. In recent years the fleet has been upgraded to meet European emission standards for diesel buses and during 2010 the largest operator, Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) with a fleet of 3725 announced it is to retire 288 of its Euro 1 buses and replace with Euro IV and V models. New World First Bus and sister company Citybus promised to replace all their 440 pre-Euro and Euro I buses by the end of 2012. In December 2012, KMB announced it had ordered 370 brand new E500 Euro V air conditioned double-deck buses from British manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited. The buses, which KMB co-developed with the manufacturer, are expected to produce fuel savings and a reduction of 10% in carbon emissions by reducing body weight and utilising a more efficient air conditioning system and its chassis will be compatible with the future Euro V1 engine. Passenger capacity of the new buses is 136 (90 seated and 46 standing). The order is part of KMB's 5-year purchasing plan which will see 1800 older buses replaced and the buses, which are expected to be in service by the end of March 2013, will be used on routes connecting urban areas with new towns in the New Territories.
During March 2012 KMB submitted proposals to the Transport Department to operate an electric bus route in east Kowloon. New circular route 5M would operate between Ping Shek Bus Terminus and Eastern Road at Kai Tak using single-deck buses developed by Youngman, a coach maker in Zhejiang province, in co-operation with German bus manufacturer Neoplan. The buses have a range of up to 10 kilometres after being fully charged and can maintain a continuous supply of air conditioning for up to an hour. There would be two charging stations at bus stops, using super-capacitor technology, which allow the zero-emission bus to get electricity from hanging wires through a pantograph extended from its roof. If approved, it is expected the service will commence operating from mid-2013. The range more than doubles the design range of the gBus, made by a joint venture of Volvo and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, which was tested last year and was found to have an actual range of only about 3.5 kilometres with the air conditioning running. KMB is also proposing to invest about HK$300 million on an electric bus network at Kai Tak before the completion of a HK$12 billion monorail in 2023 in the Kowloon East redevelopment project. In September 2012 KMB took delivery of its first fully battery-powered single-decker, known as the eBus, jointly developed by KMB and mainland manufacturer BYD. Based at Lai Chi Kok Depot, the gold-painted eBus is expected to be tested in areas of high roadside pollution such as Nathan Road. A rival electric bus manufacturer, Great Dragon, confirmed it is supplying a right-hand drive bus to a Hong Kong utility company in October 2012 for trials. A government-funded trial of electric buses is expected to start in 2013 and approval has been given for procurement of 36 buses and charging facilities to be trialled by KMB, Citybus/New World First Bus, Long Win Bus and New Lantao Bus.
The franchised bus services are supplemented by a number of non-franchised and private bus services such as residents' services for estates and private housing developments and feeder bus services to some railway stations in the New Territories operated by MTR Corporation Limited. At the end of 2011 the MTR licensed bus fleet totalled 116 (26 single-deck, 90 double-deck), other non-franchised buses totalled 6870 (6773 single-deck, 97 double-deck) and private buses totalled 495, (450 single-deck, 43 double-deck).
Since 2001 all franchised bus companies, except New Lantao Bus Company, have agreed that all new buses will be wheelchair accessible and at the end of April 2012 there were 3575 wheelchair accessible low-floor buses. New Lantao Bus Company operates along routes on Lantau Island, some of which have topographical constraints for wheelchair accessible buses but deploys wheelchair accessible low-floor buses as far as possible where terrain permits.
Universal Publications publishes a "Public Transport Atlas" (HK$69) containing comprehensive maps showing bus routes by number and boarding points although the index of routes is in Chinese. This can be obtained from booksellers throughout Hong Kong. Also Citybus/New World First Bus publish a free pamphlet "Hong Kong Bus Travel Guide" detailing airport routes and hotels served and several scenic routes. This can be obtained from Citybus/New World First Bus Customer Service Kiosks at the Airport bus terminus, Exchange Square bus terminus and Admiralty (East) bus station.
Full details of routes, frequencies and fares can be obtained by using search engines on the bus operators websites for which links are provided below and users of mobile devices can download KMB and Citybus/NWFB apps with route planning and fare information.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX USING THE BUSES
Fares are paid on entry by either Octopus Card or coins and are based on a flat fare regardless of how far you travel. The Octopus Card reader and coin box are located next to the driver. If paying in coins no change is given so the exact fare should be paid otherwise any overpayment will not be refunded. Fares are calculated in fare stages and usually reduce as each stage along the route is reached although on shorter routes the same flat fare may apply along the whole route. Travel on buses is now almost cashless with the vast majority of passengers using Octopus Card for payment. Standing is allowed on the lower deck only and is commonplace during peak hours. All buses are fitted with bells for passengers to indicate they wish to disembark at the next stop and many buses are fitted with visual displays indicating the name of the next stop in both English and Chinese. Many are also fitted with TV screens for entertainment and advertising.
Many buses are fitted with route information displays and TV screens
Since November 2008 free Wi-Fi internet access has been made available on buses on some routes operated by Citybus and New World First Bus and by early 2013, about 300 buses were wi-fi enabled including all "Cityflyer" airport services. For more information on routes with Wi-Fi access see INTERNET ACCESS
Free Wi-Fi Internet access is available on several New World First Bus and Citybus routes
Standing is allowed on the lower deck and is commonplace at peak times. Eating, drinking and smoking is not allowed on buses. Since 2010 KMB has been conducting trials of an electric "gBus" (green and genesis) with zero emissions, leased from a Shanghai company. The single-deck bus which is 12 metres long and can carry up to 70 passengers operates on a super-capacitor system which allows the bus to travel 1km on a 30-second charge. Although trials operated satisfactorily, KMB is planning to test another prototype with a longer range during 2012 as well as testing battery-driven buses and hybrids. In March 2012, BYD, backed by US investment guru Warren Buffet, and Great Dragon - a joint venture between mainland bus maker Yixing and Global Electric Vehicles, owned by Hong Kong-listed Dah Chong Hong announced it was piloting a new breed of electric bus at its Changsha factory, designed with Hong Kong road conditions in mind. It is planning to build 16 single-decker electric buses in early 2013 for testing in Hong Kong by organisations awarded subsidies under the government's Green Transport Fund.
In March 2011 KMB became the first bus company in Hong Kong to launch an iPhone app providing comprehensive information on KMB and its sister company Long Win Bus Company's services. The app offers four functions, “Point to Point Search”, “Route Number Search”, “Nearby Bus Stop” and “Alight Reminder”. The first three functions provide users with different ways to search for a bus route, offering detailed routings, route maps, timetables and route announcements, as well as photos of every bus stop. In the “Point to Point Search”, when several routes serve the same destination the system will display the lowest fare option as well as the route with the fewest en-route stops, allowing users to make their own choice according to their needs. The powerful “Nearby Bus Stop” function, making use of the iPhone’s Global Positioning System, automatically identifies the location of the user and list all bus routes available and the location of their corresponding bus-stops within 200 metres, enabling users to visit different districts without hassle. The KMB iPhone App is available in traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese and an English version. The English version can be selected from the iPhone settings menu. iPhone and iPod Touch users can download the App free of charge from the iTunes App Store. The KMB iPhone App will become available to other mobile platforms at a later date. In October 2011 Citybus and New World First launched a similar App for iPhone and Android devices.
In March 2013 Citybus announced that it is to replace the whole of its 15/16 year old "Cityflyer" airport bus fleet over a two-year period commencing April 2013. 66 new Alexander Dennis Enviro500 Euro5 buses, will feature reclining high-back leather seats, individual reading lights above upper deck seats and larger luggage racks as well as enhanced environmental performance. Multi-functional LCD panels will display the names of the next three bus stops and hotel names, all buses will be equipped with free wi-fi and luggage rack areas are monitored by CCTV. The fleet is being replaced two years ahead of the normal fleet replacement schedule.
OPERATORS, ROUTES, SCHEDULES AND FARES;
Kowloon Motor Bus Company Limited (KMB)
Provides services throughout Kowloon and New Territories and jointly operate some cross-harbour routes jointly with other operators NWFB and CTB. KMB is a member of Transport International group.
KMB iPhone/iPod Touch App which includes route search, point to point search, nearby bus stops and alight reminder is available from iTunes Store in traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese and English. Language is selected from iPhone/iPod Touch settings menu.
KMB bus at Macau Ferry Bus Terminus
Citybus Limited (CTB)
Under the same ownership (Chow Tai Fook Enterprises) as New World First Bus (NWFB) and with NWFB operates services on Hong Kong Island and jointly with KMB operates some cross-harbour routes to/from Kowloon and the New Territories. Citybus also operate airport services to/from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon including the "Cityflyer" fast services.
The above link can be used to search for both CTB and NWFB routes as both companies use a common search engine.
Citybus bus in new livery at Aberdeen Bus Station
New World First Bus Services Limited (NWFB)
Under the same ownership as Citybus (CTB) and with CTB operates services on Hong Kong Island and jointly operates some cross-harbour routes to/from Kowloon and New Territories with KMB.
The above link can be used to search for both NWFB and Citybus routes as both companies use a common search engine.
NWFB buses on Causeway Road, Causeway Bay
Long Win Bus Company Limited
Operates services between the New Territories, northern Lantau Island and the airport. Long Win is under the same ownership (Transport International) as KMB.
The above link is to the KMB website which uses the same search engine as Long Win.
Long Win buses at Tin Shui Wai
The New Lantao Bus Company (1973) Limited
Operates services (all single deck) on Lantau Island including the airport.
New Lantao Bus at Mui Wo Ferry Pier Bus Terminus
MTR Corporation operates fleet of 117 (at end 2012) buses on thirteen non-franchised routes in around some towns in the Northwest New Territories. These buses provide feeder bus services for MTR West Rail Line and Light Rail Stations. These services were previously operated by Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCR) prior to its merger with MTR Corporation in 2007. The fleet comprises 109 double-deck and 8 single-deck buses.
MTR previously also operates four feeder bus routes serving Tai Po Market Station on MTR East Rail in the Northeast New Territories but these routes are now operated by KMB under franchise.
MTR bus at Siu Hong West Rail/Light Rail interchange station