The Kowloon Motor Bus Company (KMB) has introduced the longest buses in Hong Kong, and they can carry 11 more passengers than any of the other vehicles in the firm's fleet.
Two of the four 12.8-metre buses that the bus company has ordered, with a price tag of about HK$3 million each, have already arrived in Hong Kong.
The new buses can seat a total of 98 passengers - 63 on the upper deck and 35 on the lower deck. The lower deck can also take 48 standing passengers, bringing the total capacity to 146.
"Due to increased passenger capacity, the exhaust emission and fuel consumption, the amount of road space taken up per passenger is relatively lower," said KMB's commercial director James Louey.
He stressed that although the new buses - which were assembled in Zhuhai from components made in Britain - can take more passengers, it did not mean that KMB would cut the frequency of services.
The company is planning to test the four buses on routes 49X, 43X, 279X and 277X, which are mostly in the New Territories. This is because the roads in the New Territories tend to be wider than those in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.
"But there are many 15-metre vehicles running in Hong Kong, so [12.8-metre buses] should not be a problem. And we won't test them on really narrow roads; we will test them on wide roads first," Louey added.
At the end of last year, KMB applied to the government for a fare increase of 4.3 per cent. The Executive Council has still not decided whether to approve or reject the application.
"Running a business in the transport sector, whether it's buses or minibuses, has been difficult," said Vivien Chan, KMB's corporate affairs director.
"I hope that the Exco can process [the fare increase application] as fast as possible."
Chan said KMB would watch for any impact on bus passenger numbers of the MTR's planned fare concessions - including a 25 per cent discount for commuters travelling to 29 urban stations between 7.15am and 8.15am on weekdays from September.