• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 7:43am
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.


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This article is now closed to comments

Even with all the recent incidences, I much rather the transportation system in HK over NYC or Toronto any day.
So why do we allow ignorant private car owners to block our streets and give the stupid transport department reason to build more and more roads destroying the majority's environment and polluting our lungs.
Absolutely obscene
Hong Kong's Transport Department lacks forward thinking and lags behind much of the modern world by not legalizing electrically assisted bicycles. It criminalizes those that use electrical assistance to navigate hills and travel longer distances. And in doing so, it stymies the adoption of a technology available in the rest of the developed world that will reduce dependence on other motorized transport.
And don't get me started on their lack of enforcement of the roadside idling laws.
yes - Hong Kong has an incredible transport system!!
Excellent. Well done HK.
Why dont i see SCMP front paging HK no 1 in cronyism ?
I'm quite proud of HK's public transport system to be honest. I've been to both Stockholm and London and I must say MTR really does shine above the other rails.
Commuting in Stockholm is extremely expensive (as is everything else in fact). And one could go crazy taking the Tube in London especially during weekends - it's a wonder how many diversions and bus replacement services the Tube manages to have.
Just wondering, have you ever ridden the subway systems in any other city during rush hour?
Better the 90's then the 60's like Toronto. I think they still use tokens there.
From Wikipedia:
‘In 2012, the subway delivered over 1.65 billion rides,[7] averaging approximately 5.4 million rides on weekdays, about 3.2 million rides on Saturdays, and about 2.5 million rides on Sundays. Ridership has been consistently increasing over the last several years, especially because of rising gas prices and the subway's energy efficiency.’
'New York is the only city in the United States where over half of all households do not own a car (Manhattan's non-ownership is even higher - around 75%; nationally, the rate is 8%).'
I question the validity of the Urban Mobility Index of its ranking of city that New York City doesn’t seem to be anywhere never mind that it may be the best in the world. Its colossal mileage of tracks and ridership are no small achievement in moving people to work on time all the time. With its extensive subway and cross town bus system one can get to a public transport within 15 minutes.
Also from Wikipedia, hk's private car ownership is at 7%, significant lower then nyc.
I was in nyc during the hurricane in 2011, where the entire subway system had to be shut down because of flooding, they had no choice, they just aren't catered for it. Plus all the stations are horrible, smelly, with only a few stations with escalators or elevators.
Then of course the spotty cell service, if you get cell service.
Study and surveys must have been done before all the recent incidents with the MTR?



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