Hong Kong Book Fair

Historian captures glory days of buses

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 9:14am

A new book on the history of Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) will bring back memories of the busy bus routes that criss-crossed the city before the MTR started services in Kowloon and the New Territories.

The bus company launched 80 Years with KMB at the Hong Kong Book Fair yesterday, to celebrate its 80th anniversary.

Written by historian Tim Ko Tim-keung, the book traces the development of KMB from a firm with 100 small single-deck buses to one of the world's largest public bus companies and contains rare historic photos and documents.

It was launched at a seminar at which four former KMB staff shared their memories of busy times in the 1970s - after the Cross Harbour Tunnel opened in 1972 and before the MTR opened in 1980 - when the company's double-decker buses were the fastest way to cross the harbour.

Former chief inspector Chan Chiu-wing said that in the mid-1980s, KMB buses were the only public transport for residents of the Tseung Kwan O new town and were busy from dawn to dark.

"We cut the number of runs in half when the MTR was put into service [in 2002]," Chan said. "But it got worse and we had to cancel Route 298 within a week."

KMB managing director Edmond Ho Tat-Man said the company's route reorganisation plans would help its franchised public bus operations - which lost nearly HK$43 million last year - survive further expansion of the MTR network. North District Council recently approved the company's proposal to replace the all-day 70X service from Sheung Shui to Kwun Tong with another route with fewer stops