Missing the bus: timetable upgrade long overdue

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 November, 2015, 5:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 November, 2015, 5:38pm

It has been said that Hong Kong has the best public transport network in the world, with its diverse modes efficiently carrying passengers to every nook and cranny in the territory, at a frequency foreigners can only dream about.

Certainly our metro system is among the world's best, in terms of its reliability, cleanliness, cost and overall efficiency, and how anyone who has travelled by public transport in the rest of the world can deny this beggars belief.

A recent bus experience, however, causes me to question this claim of superiority.

Standing late one evening at a bus stop in Nathan Road, I glanced down at the schedule displayed on the post to note that the last bus to my destination should have already left its point of origin, some 10km distant on the south side of Hong Kong Island.

Nothing I could find indicated how long the bus would expect to take to reach Nathan Road after it had set off from Wong Chuk Hang and, after waiting over 10 minutes, it was clear that the bus was already long gone.

Many large towns and cities throughout the world display electronic schedules at their bus stops, indicating the expected arrival time of all the buses calling at that stop, or alternatively a countdown clock for those routes. With modern GPS technology, this information can be displayed to a high degree of accuracy.

Not only do such displays allow intending passengers to make choices, they also eliminate the frustration of not knowing whether the next bus is imminent or still some distance away - or, in my case, will not arrive at all.

Such information systems are long overdue in Hong Kong, and until they are available, this territory will remain only at the middle of the field of public road transport excellence.

David Sorton, Tai Kok Tsui