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Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

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Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

Dear forum members,

is there any comprehensive bus map for Hong Kong that shows all public bus routes througout the entire city, maybe even in PDF format? I don't like to use Google Maps overlays or such, so something like the PDF maps available in NYC or most German cities would be better.

Also, I know that there are different operators of bus routes in Hong Kong, did they "split up" the city's territories meaning that there is only one bus operator, say, in Kowloon, and another one on Hong Kong Island, or are they all competing within the same parts of the city, such as Kowloon?

Also, I wanted to ask about scenic or interesting bus lines which might be suited for tourists, maybe even through woods, mountains and along the sea to small villages. Ideally a line that runs more frequent than once an hour and also later in the evening. Are there lines that close down early, such as 8pm, at all? I wouldn't want to get stuck in a smaller village in the evening.

And a least question, can I use Octopus Card for ALL public bus routes in Hong Kong, or are there certain express routes, some older vehicles or even entire operators that don't accept Octopus Card?

Lots of questions I know, but I'm very fond of public bus routes when visiting cities. Many thanks in advance for any input!

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1. Re: Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

…wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bus_routes_in_Ho…

>> scenic or interesting bus lines

HK Island #6(a/x), #15(b)

Kowloon - numerous routes along Nathan Rd

>> can I use Octopus Card for ALL public bus routes

yes

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2. Re: Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

Hi keysermuc:

I have been searching for the same thing too - one big PDF file or some files that have all the available and current bus routes. But unfortunately I couldn't find any. I can only speculate that the bus companies do not want to do that because bus routes and stops are changed frequently. Or at least more frequently than other cities in the world. The costs for updating such can be high.

Both companies (KMB and City Bus/First Bus) provide interactive searches on their websites. But personally I don't think they are easy to use, especially for visitors.

http://www.kmb.hk/en/services/search.html

www.nwstbus.com.hk/routesearch.aspx…

bibimbob's wiki link, reply #1, gives you a comprehensive list of the bus routes, point to point. You can plug in those route numbers and see the routes on their maps.

= = = = =

Back to your other interesting question: back in the 60's, indeed we used to have 3 bus companies in Hong Kong: KMB (Kowloon Motor Bus) was franchised to serve Kowloon and New Territories. CMB (China Motor Bus), the Hong Kong Island. And Lantao Bus Company, the Landtau Island. (CMB was later taken over by First World New Bus.)

Witth the opening of the Cross Harbour Tunnel (the first one) in the 70's, KMB and CMB's bus routes start to cross each other. At one time they co-operated the routes. I don't know how they divide it now. It seems as if you can find both companies' buses in Kowloon and Hong Kong. Though Lantao Bus still has the exclusive to operate on most of Lantau Island, except the Hong Kong International Airport, Disneyland and Discovery Bay, which are built on Lantau Island. Very confusing. :)

Edited: 4:15 pm, October 29, 2012
New Forest National...
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3. Re: Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

China Motor Bus (CMB) wasn't taken over. It still exists and operates one non-franchised shuttle service between Island Place and North Point Govt Offices and I believe still has property interests. However, it lost all its franchised routes to New World First Bus & Citybus.

Government practice had been to award lengthy franchises to KMB (for routes in Kowloon & New Territories) and CMB for services on HK Island. In 1960 CMB was awarded a 15-year monopoly franchise for services on HK Island with options to extend the franchise for two further 10-year periods and every 2 years after that. When the cross-harbour tunnel opened in 1971 and cross-harbour routes were introduced, route sharing with KMB began, with schedules arranged so that each operator's buses ran in batches, with CMB operating all northbound services within a 60-minute period, then KMB following for the next hour so that northbound and southbound services could be balanced allowing most effective utilisation of each operators buses. Batch operation of jointly operated cross-harbour services still continues today although I'm not sure whether it is still hourly batches but new routes have since been introduced which are not shared.

Without going into the whole background, but mainly because it did not invest in modernising its fleet (unlike KMB) despite making large profits on its bus operations, the Transport Dept and the public became increasing frustrated with CMB. It first lost route 12A to Citybus (which until then had only operated a handful of non-franchised services), in 1991. In 1993 it lost a further 26 routes to Citybus in 1993 and sold its North Point Depot and 14 more routes went to Citybus in 1995, resulting in it selling its Wong Hang Chuk Depot for HK$189 million. In February 1998 the govt announced CMB's franchise, would not be renewed when it expired on 31st August 1998 and invited tenders for CMB's 88 remaining services. CMB made a joint bid which was unsuccesful and the franchise was awarded to a new company New World First Bus (NWFB), which was a joint venture between local New World Development Company (74%) and First Group (26%). First Group sold its 26% stake to New World in 2000 and now has no interest in NWFB.

Immediately on being awarded the franchise, NWFB ordered 550 new air-conditioned buses but had to start operations with CMB's clapped-out fleet of over 770 buses. It introduced a uniform which had to be worn, recruited female and part-time staff and invested in development of the Octopus smartcard for ticketing with 700 buses being equipped with Octopus readers by January 2000 and accounting for 90% of fare revenue. It refurbished many of the old buses inherited from CMB by replacing engines and fitting catalytic converters and discontinued the 3+2 seating arrangement with conventional 2+2 seating. It introduced a marketing department and a colourful new yellow and red livery. In the first 2 years after it had been awarded the franchise it increased passenger numbers from 11 million per month to 16 million per month.

Since 2003, Citybus has been under the same ownership as NWFB. NWFB's franchise and Citybus' franchise for airport routes have been renewed for 10 years from 2013. Citybus current franchise for HK Island and cross-harbour routes doesn't expire until 2015. Long Win Bus (which is under the same ownership as KMB and operates between the airport, North Lantau and the New Territories), has also had its franchise renewed for 10 years from 2013.

There are many scenic routes including 15, Central to the Peak, 6, Central to Stanley, 9, Shau Kei Wan to Shek O, 299, Sha Tin to Sai Kung, 51, Nina Tower (Tsuen Wan) to Kam Sheung Road (Kam Tin) via Route Twisk and several routes which travel along the Eastern Island Corridor right along the harbourside, then through the Eastern Harbour Crossing and along the other side of the harbour including 681 from Hong Kong Station and 680 from Admiralty Station to Ma On Shan.

The longest bus route is KMB route 373A (morning only service) Wah Ming to Wan Chai at 50.1km and the route with the most stops is KMB route 53 Nina Tower, Tsuen Wan to Yuen Long with 71 stops in each direction. This route is also scenic in places and follows Castle Peak Road, running right along the mainland border at San Tin and Lok Ma Chau.

The government's e-transport website is meant to allow point to point planning utilising all methods of transport in HK, buses, minibuses, ferries, MTR etc but is very user-unfriendly;

http://hketransport.gov.hk/index.aspx?lang=en

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4. Re: Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

The current state of Hong Kong's bus busines is that there are three companies that have largely carved up the territory:

Lantau Island has the New Lantao Bus Company

Kowloon and the New Territories has Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB)

Hong Kong island has two bus "brands" which are owned by the same conglomerate (hence they have one website): Citybus and New World First Bus

As HappyFeet noted, the companies cooperate in operating some of the Cross-Harbour Routes (so if you're taking Bus 102 from Kowloon to Eastern Hong Kong island, you could find a bus operated by KMB following one operated by Citybus.

There are a very few parts of the territory where the companies actually compete -- Tseung Kwan O in East Kowloon is one. (It is a new town area, and when the bus routes were put up for tender, New World First competed and won some even though it is outside NWFB's main service area on HK island.

None of this matters much to the consumer, as the Octopus card is valid on all franchised bus routes in Hong Kong, so if the right number bus comes along, just get on it, bleep the card, and off you go.

As to your question about scenic bus routes: I'm most familiar with HK island, and the best bus routes on the island are: Chai Wan to She O on number 9, Central to Stanley on number 6, and Stanley to Cyberport on number 73, and Central to the Peak on number 15. (Except for the last one these all go around the scenic southern part of HK island.)

The other one I know to be interesting is KMB route 94 to Wong Shek Pier in the Sai Kung East Country Park. (Which can be followed by a scenic small-ferry ride across the bay to Ko Lau Wan, a totally isolated fishing village on the tip of a country park peninsula.)

I am not as negative as HappyFeet about the bus companies' search engines. They are not immediately intuitive but if you plug in route numbers as he suggested, you will get good Google-overlay type maps that can be zoomed and show the location of every bus stop. (And the same sites also provide timetable and fare info for each route, if you want that.) I do find the NWFB/Citybus site somewhat easier to use than the KMB one.

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5. Re: Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

Thank you SolentTraveller and HK_Observer for filling in the history and developments of the bus companies in Hong Kong. And SolentTraveller for some interesting trivia facts. Looks like it was fairly complicated. (And keysermuc don't you regret asking the question? LOL :D )

It sounds like new bus routes are designed by the HK Government and let companies bid for operating? I thought bus routes are developed by bus companies based on demands.

Regarding the interactive route search: well if you know the route numbers, plugging them in and plotting the routes on the map - that portion is relatively straight forward. But who would expect a visitor to know the route numbers, right?

As for the "point to point" search... both companies offer them. The KMB one is particularly hard to use. Because it uses a tree-like top-down approach for searches. You can only pick a "district" known in their database as input. Or else, no search.

Say I am a first-time visitor to Hong Kong. I want to go from YMCA Salisbury Hotel to Wong Tai Sin on a bus. Fairly easy enough, right? But in order to search, you need to input the "district". Can't type in "YMCA Salisbury". So... what district? Ah... Tsim Sha Tsui. What? Not on the list! It is TSIM SHA TSUI! And what in the world is "Yau Tsim Mong"? You explain that to a visitor! :)

The Citybus & NWFB point-to-point search works better. It does allow you to do a free-from input, like "YMCA" or "Kowloon Hotel" and it comes back with a list of suggestions from the known "points of interests" in their database. It is a bit easier.

New Forest National...
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6. Re: Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

I have a lot more interesting trivia about CMB HappyFeet, but I won't bore you with it. Most of it comes from a report of a talk given to a UK bus society by the Planning Manager who was on secondment to CMB from 1991 to 1998. The implication though seems to be that CMB was more interested in its property portfolio than it was in running buses.

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7. Re: Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

For a nice view of the skyline from the Kowloon side, ride a bus along Lung Cheung Road. From Mongkok, you can take KMB 87A or 87B from Kei Wing Primary School (Lai Chi Kok Road near Prince Edward MTR) and get off at Phoenix House. Cross the pedestrian bridge and there is a parking lot 3 minutes away with views. The view from the pedestrian bridge is also very nice.

http://www.kmb.hk/en/services/search.html

Plenty of buses plough through the busy sections of Nathan Road (KMB single-digit routes from the Star Ferry), which is quite well-lit at night with lots of neon signs.

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8. Re: Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

Thank you SolentTraveller! Maybe CMB, China Motor Bus, should change its name to China Land Development, huh? :)

My father was very fond of KMB. KMB used to have their logo on the side of every bus that said "KMB, 1933". It was established in 1933, which happened to be the same year my father bought a one-way train ticket from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, and settled down ever since. He was among KMB's first generation of riders.

In the 60's, we used to go on these one-day excursions riding on route 16 (I think it was) from Jordan Ferry Terminal to Yuen Long. It went through the old Castle Peak Road and meandered through the coastline, through Lai Chi Kok, Tsuen Wan, Ting Kau, Sham Tseng, Tai Lam, then on through Tuen Mun, Ping Shan then finally Yuen Long. Way before the Tuen Mun Road Expressway. Used to take 90+ minutes. The ultimate scenic ride. Of course now expressways and tunnels are everywhere. Jordan Ferry Terminal no longer exists. And going to Yuen Long, you can take a train.

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9. Re: Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

What an amazing situation: no bus map. Weird.

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10. Re: Bus maps for city bus routes and other city bus questions

@liquidacrobat,

No one posted a bus map here because there is none. As noted above, Hong Kong has three major private bus operators, not like many other cities where buses are operated by a single government authority. So, you will not find a consolidated bus map. And even if there is, the number of bus routes we have will render it illegible.

If you really need a "map", you can go to a book shop and buy a street atlas that has bus routes shown on the maps. Universal Publication has a Public Transport Atlas.

up.com.hk/product-hk-eng/…hk-map02-eng.htm

But casual tourists don't really need such comprehensive information. The best and most up-to-date source is the bus operators' websites. And of course, the DEs and local forumers here give very good answers.