50,000 KMB passengers a day lost to new rail link

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 12:00am

KMB has lost more than 50,000 passengers a day to Ma On Shan Rail since it opened last month and might need to cut more routes if they do not return in the long term, the company's managing director said yesterday.

The number of lost passengers represents 1.8 per cent of Hong Kong's largest bus operator's overall 2.8 million passengers a day.

Managing director John Chan Cho-chak said: 'For now, because the line has only opened for a month and there were some holidays and cold days with less people going out, we have lost about 50,000 passengers each day.

'But the figure is not that accurate. We have to wait at least until after the Lunar New Year before making a comparison or assessment.'

Ma On Shan Rail, which opened on December 21, offers alternative public transport for residents in the eastern East New Territories.

The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation is carrying 80,000 to 90,000 passengers a day on the new link.

The Transport Department has already cut two KMB routes running along the same route as the new rail line and has plans for more cancellations.

Mr Chan said his company would have to cut more routes if the passengers lost to the rail link did not return.

'We have been discussing with the Transport Department [about cutting certain bus routes] and will consult with local residents and continue to follow the situation to arrange for certain adjustments,' he said.

'If in the long term, if these lost customers do not return and we continue to operate the same number of buses, then it would be a waste of resources.'

Mr Chan also said KMB was keen on a new system for bus fare adjustments as it was difficult to increase fares under the present system, which uses a set of factors but no formula to determine charges.

'We definitely would welcome a more objective system,' he said. 'We hope it could balance the interests of various parties. Aside from the public's interest, it should also consider operators' profits. If the operator cannot get a reasonable profit, then it cannot invest or improve the service.'