Hong Kong bus operators grapple with high lost trip rates, government mulls penalties

Lam Sai-hung

29th November 2023 – (Hong Kong) Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Lam Sai-hung, disclosed on Wednesday that the city’s bus franchises experienced a lost trip rate of 2.7 per cent in the first half of 2023. The term ‘lost trip’ refers to instances where a bus operator fails to operate a scheduled departure, with the rate representing the percentage of lost trips against total scheduled departures.

Among the bus franchises, New World First Bus, recently amalgamated with Citybus, recorded the highest lost trip rate of 4.5 per cent. KMB, another prominent operator, posted a rate of 2.6 per cent.

Citybus fared slightly better, with its franchise for the Hong Kong Island and Cross-Harbour bus network marking a rate of 2.4 per cent. The franchise for the Airport and North Lantau bus network registered a lower rate of 1.8 per cent.

These figures were disclosed in a written response by Lam to inquiries from lawmaker Luk Chung-hung. According to Lam, from late 2019 to June 2023, the Transport Department issued an average of 400 reminder or advisory letters per year to bus operators. Additionally, one warning letter was sent to an individual operator for lost trips resulting from failure to adjust bus services adequately following the relaxation of social distancing measures between the end of 2020 and early 2021.

Lam asserted that bus operators generally respond proactively and sincerely to these letters, aiming to reduce the issue of lost trips. He commended the effectiveness of this communication mechanism.

However, he warned that the government could resort to stricter measures if a franchised bus operator persistently records high lost trip rates without implementing effective remedial measures. Penalties may be imposed on the operator.