KMB expects World Cup to affect passenger numbers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 June, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 June, 1998, 12:00am

Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) expects patronage to slump during the World Cup because of people staying at home to watch the games on television, according to a company executive.

'Even the bus industry is not immune from the effects of the economic situation,' managing director John Chan Cho-chak said.

'People are taking buses in preference to taxis and other more expensive forms of transport,' he said.

'But with the general decrease in the level of economic activity, people are going out less,' Mr Chan said.

'In the coming month, the situation will worsen as more people stay home to watch the World Cup,' he said.

KMB also does not expect its bus routes to and from Chek Lap Kok to generate profit in the medium term because of the slump in tourist arrivals.

'In light of the current tourism situation, it is very likely the first year is going to fall short of expectations,' Mr Chan said.

He said it was difficult for KMB to gauge how many people will use the company's new airport-bus routes.

'I just don't know how people will react and what people's preferences are,' he said. 'It's all a very big guessing game.' KMB's attributable profit for 1997 was $550.8 million. It paid a dividend to shareholders of $1.36 per share.

Last year, Mr Chan said, the company was granted a new 10-year bus franchise without a profit-control scheme or route exclusivity. He said the contract has had no substantial impact on the company.