Transport and logistics

Hong Kong’s largest bus company says it plans to launch HK$800 monthly pass in early 2018

But concern group criticises offer as inflexible and benefiting a small number

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 9:39pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 9:53pm

Hong Kong’s largest franchised bus operator said on Wednesday it planned to launch its highly anticipated HK$800 monthly pass early next year for all passengers.

The Transport Department approved KMB’s application for the offering last month and was now in talks with the bus company over the details.

“Our objective is that KMB can finish its preparatory work as soon as possible so that the monthly pass can be launched to benefit the public,” the department said.

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The bus giant added in a statement it would announce the details with the government in due course.

A source said KMB still needed to wait for Octopus Cards Ltd to resolve the technical matters concerning the monthly pass, the data of which is to be transferred to the Octopus card.

“KMB hopes it can launch the monthly pass in the first quarter of next year,” the source said.

Hong Kong’s biggest bus operator proposes HK$800 monthly pass

The monthly pass is to cover all KMB trips subject to a maximum 10 trips a day. Trips to border checkpoints are to be limited to twice a day to avoid the pass being abused by parallel importers.

Among the KMB routes, the most expensive route is the 978 between Fanling and Wan Chai, at HK$24.30 per trip. The pass is to be made available for purchase at 50 bus terminals.

KMB hopes it can launch the monthly pass in the first quarter of next year

Quentin Cheng Hin-kei, spokesman for concern group Public Transport Research Team, said the HK$800 monthly pass would only benefit a small group of long-haul passengers who live in the northwestern part of the New Territories and need to commute to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island for work.

He criticised the bus operator for failing to offer flexible choices for passengers, such as different amounts for different districts.

“This monthly pass is far from ideal as it can’t benefit all passengers and its applicability is very rigid. Why can’t we have other options such as a weekly pass or a day pass so more passengers can benefit?” he asked.

Cheng argued the most ideal option would be a travel pass allowing commuters to use any kind of public transport modes.

Lawmaker Edward Lau Kwok-fan, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, called on other bus operators to offer different types of monthly passes, such as for cross-tunnel and district routes. He said those who spent over HK$1,000 on bus fare every month would enjoy at least a 20 per cent discount from KMB.