Bus firms see bright future ahead after smooth opening of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge
- Journey times between Guangdong cities and Hong Kong cut by an hour
- And coach operator believes people will be drawn to easier way to cross border
Hong Kong’s cross-border coach operators are ready to cash in on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, with one firm already looking to expand its network.
With the new crossing cutting an hour off journey times between the city and western Guangdong province, one bus company sees plenty of potential now that Shenzhen Bay Bridge has been taken out of the equation.
For Matthew Wong Leung-pal, chairman of Kwoon Chung Bus, the ability to travel direct to the mainland is likely to appeal to people on both sides of the border.
“I think I share the same feeling with many passengers, that the ride today was very smooth with convenient and efficient customs procedures at both the Hong Kong and Zhuhai Port,” he said in Zhuhai, after crossing the bridge soon after it opened on Wednesday morning.
Wong believes visitors will switch to using the bridge from their previous cross-border route via Shenzhen Bay, especially if travelling to cities such as Hengqin, Yangjiang and Jiangmen.
Many places in the western district are not serviced by the high-speed rail network.
“Compared with those passing through the Shenzhen Bay port for going to western Guangdong, travelling on the bridge is at least one hour faster,” Wong said.
In the future, the firm plans to connect six of its urban routes, which operate from areas such as Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok, to Zhuhai and 18 other mainland cities in the province using the world’s longest sea crossing.
“We believe many tourists will be attracted to use the bridge transport service because this is a world-class tourist attraction, and infrastructure. We plan to provide a multi-stop operation model,” he said.
However, several coach companies that provide a service between Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and Macau could not provide a full service on the day it opened.
Firms were given just five days notice that the bridge would open on Wednesday, and it is estimated that operators were only able to offer about 50 to 60 per cent of the planned 400 daily round trips between the three cities.
For Kwoon Chung, Wong said they could only run about 180 round trips to Zhuhai and Macau out of the 240 journeys they eventually hope to make.
Guangdong resident Winnie Tsang, who works for a travel agency, said after crossing the bridge that the high-speed rail link, and bridge, both had their own strengths.
“Both rides are very smooth, comfortable and efficient,” she said. “I can’t say which transport service is better or faster as it depends on your departure point, and destination. I would give my travel advice to my clients according to their needs and expectations.”
JLL Hong Kong, a real estate and investment firm, said the bridge would significantly improve the connectivity between Hong Kong, and the western region of the Pearl River Delta.
Denis Ma, head of research at JLL Hong Kong, said the impact on Zhuhai could only be seen in the long run.
“Longer term, the further development of western Guangdong will be beneficial for Hong Kong through increased trade and business activity,” he said. “The true value of the bridge may not be apparent for 10 years, if not longer.”