• Fri
  • Jul 25, 2014
  • Updated: 7:58pm
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong named ‘best city in the world for commuters’

Public transportation gets top marks in survey but cycling and air quality still a problem

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2014, 11:10am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 April, 2014, 8:52am

Hong Kong is the best place in the world for people to travel around, but falls behind in cycling paths and air quality, a study has found.

The study, involving 84 major cities across the globe, found the city had developed “the most advanced urban mobility system in the world”, with public transport being the main mode of commuting and the number of registered vehicles per head of population is one of the lowest.

Hong Kong, which also topped the list in the last survey in 2011, scored 58.2 out of 100 this year, followed by Stockholm with 54.7, Amsterdam third and Copenhagen fourth. Singapore is in sixth place, after Vienna.

London ranked ninth in the study, with Tokyo 19th and Beijing 28th, followed by Guangzhou.

The Urban Mobility Index report, compiled by international consultancy company Arthur D Little, found Hong Kong’s railway system “impressive”, and the high use of Octopus cards also played an important part in securing the top spot. “MTR has turned Hong Kong’s high population density into an opportunity rather than a threat,” it said.

Watch: Hong Kong's MTR during peak hours

It described the city as “a striking example of a city entering into a virtuous system”, but it noted that its mobility had been shaped by “one dominant operator” – the railway.

“Further improvement of the mobility system will require more co-operation with other stakeholders in the ecosystem and the introduction of innovative mobility services”.

Further improvement of the mobility system will require more co-operation with other stakeholders in the ecosystem and the introduction of innovative mobility services

Although the city fares well in most indicators of the study, its score in cycle path density was the lowest in the top 11 cities. Hong Kong only has 187 kilometres of cycling paths for every 1000 square kilometres of land, compared to 4,041 in Stockholm, 3,502 in Amsterdam and 280 in Singapore.

The city also did not do well in the air quality indicators. The annual average transport-related emission of nitrogen dioxide stood at 50mcg per cubic metre, and there was 50mcg per cubic metre of particulate PM10.

Government figures show the roadside nitrogen dioxide level has increased by a quarter since 2006.

Hong Kong Cycling Alliance chairman Martin Turner said Hong Kong had great potential to become a bicycle-friendly city because of the compact urban area, and the government should stop treating cycling only as a leisure activity.

He welcomed the government’s initiatives to improve and build cycling tracks in the New Territories but said more effort would be needed to extend the network to other areas.

“We shouldn’t use [the high ranking of Hong Kong] as a reason for the absence of cycling.”

Friends of the Earth’s Melonie Chau Yuet-cheung said poor air quality score could be attributed to the bad planning in Hong Kong, with buildings creating a wall effect. The many traffic lights also made cars stop and go frequently, generating exhaust fumes.

She said the government should considering road charging in the busiest parts of the city or banning cars from entering certain districts.

The study said 38 per cent of Hongkongers used zero emission modes of transport – cycling and walking. The organisation noted that it was much higher than the general public perceived.

The Transport Department said it strived to promote bicycle-friendly environment in rural areas, new towns and new development areas and was carrying out a comprehensive review of the city’s cycling policy.

The Environmental Protection Department said it was pleased with the survey. It had taken measures to reduce roadside pollution by phasing out some 82,000 pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles, subsidising franchised bus companies to test hybrid and electric buses, and other schemes to control emissions. It would also work with Guangdong authorities to reduce emission in the region, it said.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

To a few posters here,
I will advise especially to the officials not to be drowned in the accolade handed to Hong Kong for being the first in the ranking in Urban Mobility Index. I can assure you all Hong Kong will get to be the first in the contest for years to come. Just the lengthy Mid-Level Escalator alone would awe someone from Dallas to put Hong Kong at the pinnacle of the ranking and never mind about Hong Kong has the most different modes of public transportation – walking, subway, bus, tram, peak tram, cable tram, van, taxi and ferry. Hong Kong responded appropriately to its geography and urban density.
No slacking of the officials that whatever there is in serving the public in Hong Kong it should continue doing so efficiently and 'affordably'. A lesson should be learned from the ‘Freest market economy’ accolade for two decades that has led Hong Kong down to a blind alley through the practice of ‘fake freest market’ of an expansive city to live and work.
People in Hong Kong should be keeping an eye on the officials. Urban mobility is a serious subject -- it shouldn't subject to any hidden agenda especially the political kind fighting out in political ideology even from abroad. Beware.
HKSAR being an integral part of China
world No 1 "cronyism" country has
world No 1
public transport system
foreign reserves
top Pisa scores
the most peaceful of UN Security Council's P Member since WW2
If there was a casual relation
what would be a democratic choice
more or less cronyism?
the economist’s so-called "cronyism" is a subjective measure of intangibles
whereas transport system, reserves and Pisa scores are indisputably objective
it probably measures only the magazine’s prejudice
the Guardian, Wed 2 Apr:
“England's GCSE pupils will be benchmarked
against their Chinese counterparts from 2017 …
to link GCSE grades to levels achieved
by pupils in China, Singapore
and other countries deemed to be high-performing”
Wow, I was wondering what was the definition of "irrelevant" and you hit it perfectly. Good one. I guess that you Beijing sycophants need to reach as much as they can. Laughing at you but the mass transit in HK is really good. Not sure if better than Singapore but it is pretty awesome.
It matters not
if elephant is eleven
or eleven, elephant
any one who mentions Beijing
not in a critical cynical mood
is an irrelevant sycophant
very easily done
Thanks to the mainlanders crossing the borders and subsidize heavily the fares of the HK locals commuters.
Marcus T Anthony
It's certainly a fantastic system, no doubt aided by the huge population over a small area. My only gripe is the rudeness of a lot of people in shoving their way onto the train before others get off. I have only seen this in HK and China. Everywhere else people wait until everybody has disembarked before getting on to trains (and lifts).
I guess you have never been to New York.
Marcus T Anthony
No, but I have been to many other American cities and hundreds around the world. People wait till others disembark. It's the norm everywhere I have ever been - and I have been to many, many countries, including many other Asian countries. The reverse is true for Chinese cities. Everywhere I have ever been people push and shove their way onto public transport, jump queues and rush into lifts.
Whatever is happening in NYC it is clearly also not the norm. So comparing HK to the worst case you know is hardly a ringing endorsement for the disrespect shown by far too many commuters in HK and China. Pretending this issue does not exist because it offends your pride will not make it go away.
The public transportation system in HK is the best I have ever seen.
I absolutely agree that we have the best transportation system. The more you had taken the transportations in other cities, the less you would complain about the system in Hong Kong. Our system is efficient, safe and reliable. It is not expensive when compare to many other big cities!




SCMP.com Account