Pet owners dismayed at not being able to take their four-legged friends on buses may soon have another option, thanks to a planned transport service designed to serve canine, feline and humans alike.
The 99bus - a play on the Cantonese word for 'dog' - aimed to make it more convenient for people to take their pets with them as they went around the city, since most public transport did now allow pets, co-founder Kamric To Kam-wai said.
He said a day-long trial run was set for September.
'As a dog owner, I find it really inconvenient to take my pet out,' the 26-year-old designer said. 'I am not rich, so I can't afford hiring a taxi or a van every time. So why can't there be a bus service for pets?'
To and his fellow co-founders, Chow Kin-wa and Chan Kit, are pressing ahead with the plan to create the animal-friendly bus service despite learning that they had failed to secure financial backing.
They had put their concept to the 'Love Ideas, Love HK' competition, a fund-raiser for charity initiatives by the Li Ka Shing Foundation.
Projects are selected to receive grants ranging from HK$25,000 to HK$300,000.
Still, the organisers say they will go ahead with the trial. If it is successful, they will launch three routes: from Jordan to Tai Po, Jordan to Sai Kung and Central to Stanley.
Passengers will be able to get on and off at different stops, most of them in or near parks and country parks.
Only one route will operate on the trial day. The public will have a chance to select what that is through voting on Facebook, a service arranged by the group's media partner, AC Plus.
Pet owners will need to sign up for the trial day.
But To said the group hoped that 99bus could eventually function like other bus services, allowing people to just hop on and off.
It is unclear what licensing requirements the organisers would have to meet.
A spokeswoman for the Transport Department said the laws did not allow any animals on buses, except for guide dogs, but the group could consider using a non-franchised bus service.
The group, which has been studying the idea for a year, said it planned to rent a bus from Citybus and charge each passenger HK$30 per trip.
'If we had won the fund-raiser project the price could have been reduced to HK$20,' To said.
A Citybus spokeswoman said the group had not yet approached them for the September trial date.