NETWORK 26 represents the biggest revolution in Hong Kong's public transport industry since bus franchises were awarded in 1933. That is the view of Lyndon Rees, managing director of Citybus, the company that is launching upgraded franchised services on 26 routes on Hong Kong island today. ''There is definitely a more competitive element in the business now,'' Mr Rees said. ''Although the previous arrangements amounted to an exclusive monopoly, I don't want to criticise them because they have done pretty well overall,'' he said. ''But we have always believed, and are now firmly committed to proving, that bus services could be run much better. ''What was needed was the dynamics for change. Citybus provided that. We knew the wish and desire for improvements were there - and we were the trigger that turned those aspirations into reality,'' he added. Because Citybus is a franchise, it is exempt from first registration tax on new vehicles and this reduced the cost of each of the 100 new buses to $2.5 million. If the levy had not been waived the company would have paid $37.5 million in taxes. Mr Rees said in retrospect he would have liked the introduction of competition speeded up, but he accepted political considerations constrained the Government from acting earlier. ''Now that we have finally got that long-awaited revolution in bus franchising, I am utterly convinced that the public will benefit right across the board,'' he said. ''If one carrier sets a higher standard - and we will - then the others must either follow, or fade away. In short, competition improves services.'' Mr Rees was keen to describe the extent of the Citybus investment in its new franchise and to extol the virtues of the new bus fleet for Network 26. ''The key to everything is the Citybus culture,'' he said. Mr Rees said this was summed up in three words - dignity, professionalism and care. ''We want all our staff, but especially our frontline ambassadors - our drivers - to have a sense of dignity, a sense that they are valued in the community because they are providing a public service, albeit a commercial one,'' he said. ''We also want them to be smart, clean and professional at all times. ''To ensure this, we have provided them all with two official uniforms, for summer and winter use, right down to socks and shoes. ''Basically, if the drivers feel well cared for, we believe they will take better care of their customers.'' Mr Rees said the Citybus culture was primarily concerned with people and this was exemplified in the training programme. ''Firstly, we taught drivers to handle the buses. Then followed the most important stage - training their attitudes. ''Training on specific classes of buses and finally route training completed the process,'' he said. Mr Rees said it was not realistic to pay Citybus drivers more than those in other companies but it had sought out other ways to improve the total package on offer to staff. ''Where we can score, for example, is with a good provident fund arrangement. This will provide a substantial lump sum after, say, 10 years service with the company,'' he said. The theme of greater consideration will be reinforced and extended into active participation by additional means. To foster a greater cohesion among different levels of the company, Citybus has established a Joint Consultative Committee. This forum is designed to permit direct talks between management and elected staff representatives. Citybus will also appoint an experienced senior driver on each route to a new post of route manager. He will be responsible for the overall performance of that route. ''This will make him personally concerned about the smooth operation of his route, and the performance of his team of drivers on it,'' Mr Rees said. ''This manager will also serve as a conduit for the two-way transfer of information between the drivers on the ground, and those in the head office.'' The criteria for the success of Citybus varied widely, Mr Rees said. ''The public will look favourably on us when we provide a better, cleaner, more reliable and more caring service,'' he said. ''The Government will be looking for the smooth implementation of a radical change in policy. ''Citybus is looking for both of those plus a healthy profit at the end of the day.''