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Old October 19th, 2008, 10:29 AM   #701
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricIsHim View Post
Route consolidation was done along Hennessey Road in Wan Chai years back, it has helped to relief the problem. On the other hand, route consolidation is not very popular on the Kowloon side since HK's culture favour a lot more on point-to-point service. But there has been no new bus routes established. New services usually go outside the prime area using an interchange scheme to encourage transfer at certain locations. With such a high demand of bus service, even with what you called "high" frequency, it will be like extreme headway unit in seconds. Don't forget there is still the MTR under Nathan Road as well which is over capacity, too.

In terms of electric or hybrid, HK has whatever alternate fuel vehicles in the market manufactured such as the Toyota Pirus. The government has a tax break towards these types of vehicles to encourage buyers choosing alternate fuel over the traditional gasoline vehicles.
Not an easy situation, certainly.

It is impressive and scary as well...considering that HK is running 3 "north-south" MTR lines with 2 of them cross-harbour...and the MTR under Nathan is still over capacity...

I wonder what be done over the long term...the Shatin-Central Link will reduce some of the pressure...but traffic is still going to grow.

Even if route consolidation and very high frequency buses (every 1-2 minutes) and bus lanes were introduced I wonder how much of an improvement would be made. It seems that things are close to the limit right now in south Kowloon

Cheers, m
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Old October 19th, 2008, 04:49 PM   #702
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They key is to improve the rail network, rather than have people take buses. Expect to see less reliance on buses going forward with several key rail projects happening (Shatin - Central, South Island, West Island, etc.)
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Old October 20th, 2008, 05:41 AM   #703
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Not an easy situation, certainly.

It is impressive and scary as well...considering that HK is running 3 "north-south" MTR lines with 2 of them cross-harbour...and the MTR under Nathan is still over capacity...

I wonder what be done over the long term...the Shatin-Central Link will reduce some of the pressure...but traffic is still going to grow.

Even if route consolidation and very high frequency buses (every 1-2 minutes) and bus lanes were introduced I wonder how much of an improvement would be made. It seems that things are close to the limit right now in south Kowloon

Cheers, m
The reality in HK is bus services and the MTR are direct competitors amongst other public transportation. Bus operators developed express bus routes which run from the new towns direct into the CBD at a speed even faster or approximately same travel time as the rails do. Even if the bus may be a little longer than the rails, but buses provide direct transfer-free service where rails may take two or three transfers between trains to get from one point to the other.

Bus lanes are designated along many trunk roads, i.e. Nathan Road. However, since bus stops are curb-sided block after block; buses actually travel on the centre lane, where no private vehicles travel along the curb side already.

In long term, if the government does not step in to eliminate the new town-to-Nathan Road bus routes, this direct competition will continue. In 2003, the government actually proposed to eliminate numbers of these long distances routes when the West Rail opened. But the plan didn't go forward due to strong objections from the district councils. So route eliminate or further consolidation is more likely wont' happen at any time in the future due to government policy, but may only be the shift of transport mode from bus to rail if it happens.

After all, all these questions or comments above is more relevant to trips between Central Kowloon and the new towns. Cross-harbour trips to/from the eastern New Territories along the East Rail and those to/from Central Kowloon will more likely to rely on rail service due to the extreme congested Hung Hum Cross Harbour Tunnel.
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Old October 20th, 2008, 05:50 AM   #704
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I still remember vividly the protests when bus routes were planned to be axed following the opening of the Ma On Shan and TKO Lines. It appears the government has to put up with keeping bus competition even when new rail lines open. I still prefer to take the bus, as the ride is more comfortable, even if the journey takes a bit longer, although rail is the preferred option during the morning commute.
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Old October 20th, 2008, 08:09 AM   #705
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricIsHim View Post
The reality in HK is bus services and the MTR are direct competitors amongst other public transportation. Bus operators developed express bus routes which run from the new towns direct into the CBD at a speed even faster or approximately same travel time as the rails do. Even if the bus may be a little longer than the rails, but buses provide direct transfer-free service where rails may take two or three transfers between trains to get from one point to the other.

Bus lanes are designated along many trunk roads, i.e. Nathan Road. However, since bus stops are curb-sided block after block; buses actually travel on the centre lane, where no private vehicles travel along the curb side already.

In long term, if the government does not step in to eliminate the new town-to-Nathan Road bus routes, this direct competition will continue. In 2003, the government actually proposed to eliminate numbers of these long distances routes when the West Rail opened. But the plan didn't go forward due to strong objections from the district councils. So route eliminate or further consolidation is more likely wont' happen at any time in the future due to government policy, but may only be the shift of transport mode from bus to rail if it happens.

After all, all these questions or comments above is more relevant to trips between Central Kowloon and the new towns. Cross-harbour trips to/from the eastern New Territories along the East Rail and those to/from Central Kowloon will more likely to rely on rail service due to the extreme congested Hung Hum Cross Harbour Tunnel.
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I still remember vividly the protests when bus routes were planned to be axed following the opening of the Ma On Shan and TKO Lines. It appears the government has to put up with keeping bus competition even when new rail lines open. I still prefer to take the bus, as the ride is more comfortable, even if the journey takes a bit longer, although rail is the preferred option during the morning commute.
The buses themselves are providing a valuable service and need not be axed when rail is built. Buses provide midblock stops, frequent service, and they are quite convenient, especially if they are accessible ... not to mention, they are a great way of seeing the community as well.

I have always wished that the buses were just a little bit more effective in terms of services being streamlined and consolidated, faster (with control over traffic signals and bus priority) and that the services were more informative.

Bus stations have good signage and information but many bus stops, especially the ones served by KMB, are just numbers on a road sign...which doesnt give a lot of information for the passengers or potential passengers....not to mention that the signs are often blocked by passengers. NWFB and City seem to have better and clearer signs at midblock but KMB can improve.

Have HK bus operators started looking at GPS tracking and "next bus" systems as well as improving the signage so passengers know where to wait especially on those looooong bus stops with multiple buses?

Cheers, m
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Old October 20th, 2008, 04:40 PM   #706
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The buses themselves are providing a valuable service and need not be axed when rail is built. Buses provide midblock stops, frequent service, and they are quite convenient, especially if they are accessible ... not to mention, they are a great way of seeing the community as well.
In many cities around the world, buses are feeder service for the rails and provide local stops in communities. Long distance travel is primary by rail service. Even if any bus routes that cover long distance, they usually run on local streets as part of the feeder service to the next closest rail station. These routes take significantly longer time to travel between same two transportation interchanges as the rail does.

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I have always wished that the buses were just a little bit more effective in terms of services being streamlined and consolidated, faster (with control over traffic signals and bus priority) and that the services were more informative.
Bus priority signals do not work on trunk roads in HK giving the fact there are too many buses run along the same trunk roads; this would take up all green time at the intersection for the major approach and stop traffic on the crossing streets all the time. Also buses travel from all directions at any signalized intersection, so which way do you give priority?

Priority signal only works along trunk roads where there are only a few bus routes and headway is less frequent, like every few minutes, not every few seconds as in HK.

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Bus stations have good signage and information but many bus stops, especially the ones served by KMB, are just numbers on a road sign...which doesnt give a lot of information for the passengers or potential passengers....not to mention that the signs are often blocked by passengers. NWFB and City seem to have better and clearer signs at midblock but KMB can improve.
This has been improving overtime. There are limitations on how much KMB can do on the crowded sidewalk along Nathan Road. It is not possible to put a booth to have all the information. The route information plates on the sign poles used to be only two sided, but they are now triangular or four sided which can have much more information these days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by allurban View Post
Have HK bus operators started looking at GPS tracking and "next bus" systems as well as improving the signage so passengers know where to wait especially on those looooong bus stops with multiple buses?

Cheers, m
Yes, KMB has been testing the GPS tracking and "next bus" systems. I don't know what is the status now, but it was in real-life operation on Route 1A between Sau Mau Ping (Central) and Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry a few years back.
But the challenges we have been facing is satellite signal blockage due to enormous number of flyovers as well as skyscrapers on either side of the street. Technologies are capable to overcome the challenge, such as location tabulation using cell phone tower; but it also comes with a bigger price tag.

All these "next bus" timing count down is great if you know you are going to to wait for 20-30 minutes for the next bus to come. But for HK, since bus run typically on a 10-15 minute headways even during off-peak hours, it is unlikely any passenger will have to stand for over 15 minutes for the bus and which is acceptable.

I visited Vancouver last year where has such system for one of the main route. When I first stood at the bus stop, the sign said "Next Bus in 5 minutes." Five minutes later, the sign say ""Next Bus in 7 minutes." Another five minutes later, the sign still showed "Next Bus in 5 minutes." It's obvious this was because of congestion and I waited 25 minutes for the bus. It is meaningless if the sign keeps running the same message and can't give the correct information. Overtime, people won't rely the system anymore.
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 07:53 AM   #707
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i thought hk already has 'next bus' signs over city...
i never imagined that in a city full of skyscrapers GPS would be jammed somehow by the buildings...
my city has started putting those signs on tram stops, it's still in a test phase and i find it pretty good solution... at least i know how much to wait...
but difference is that frequency of public transport in my town is like you said 10-15 minutes and in HK it is less than 5 minutes so 'next bus' sign isn't that much necessary...
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 08:14 AM   #708
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Take my hats off to HK
Its transport system must be hugely underrated, I am seriously impressed by its very "modern" fleet, it looks better than many western countries in fact that I know of.

Surely HK must have one of the undisputedly top public transport systems in the world.
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 09:19 AM   #709
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJZG View Post

i thought hk already has 'next bus' signs over city...
i never imagined that in a city full of skyscrapers GPS would be jammed somehow by the buildings...
my city has started putting those signs on tram stops, it's still in a test phase and i find it pretty good solution... at least i know how much to wait...
but difference is that frequency of public transport in my town is like you said 10-15 minutes and in HK it is less than 5 minutes so 'next bus' sign isn't that much necessary...
I think the signals get interfered by the close arrangement of buildings. These signals have to go up to satellites, and don't use existing cell phone reception towers, so are more sensitive to the built-up environment.
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 09:34 AM   #710
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An interesting history lesson :

Riots in 1967 sparked service by van owners
12 October 2008
South China Morning Post

Hong Kong's public light bus industry was born of the leftist riots that rocked the city in 1967.

With the streets filled with protesters and union activists at the two main bus companies - China Motor Bus on the island and Kowloon Motor Bus - encouraging their workers to strike, the city ground to a virtual halt.

Taxis and the railway were unable to cope and into this void stepped entrepreneurial van owners who began operating illegal bus services in their neighbourhoods.

The colonial government, grateful for the relief provided by the operators, essentially turned a blind eye to the practice for the next two years.

The introduction in 1969 of legislation legalising the services and making available some 5,000 licences for existing providers was not without controversy. Some commentators believed it was wrong of the government to issue licences to people who had been profiting from an illegal activity.

Others, like the head of the Hongkong Tramways, argued that law abiding and co-operative firms like his should also be given the chance to operate minibuses.

Legislator Szeto Wai was quoted in the South China Morning Post at the time as saying that there was no way the government should even consider compensating the two franchised bus companies for lost revenues.

"The inadequate and poor services of the bus companies have been amply demonstrated by the large number of people being forced to resort to illegal transport," Mr Szeto said.

Since that time the operation of the minibuses, including how many are allowed on the road, their size and weight, and the number of seats each can contain, has been governed by legislation which has only occasionally been updated.

They have also formed a sort of strategic transport reserve, reducing the influence of unions representing drivers for other bus services.

"Because of minibuses, there are much fewer strikes," said Wong Man-kit, who owns about 330 of them. "So we perform a very useful role."
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 10:20 AM   #711
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Quote:
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In many cities around the world, buses are feeder service for the rails and provide local stops in communities. Long distance travel is primary by rail service. Even if any bus routes that cover long distance, they usually run on local streets as part of the feeder service to the next closest rail station. These routes take significantly longer time to travel between same two transportation interchanges as the rail does..
True...but many buses in HK arent just providing feeder services...some do become mainline routes when they reach the city.
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Bus priority signals do not work on trunk roads in HK giving the fact there are too many buses run along the same trunk roads; this would take up all green time at the intersection for the major approach and stop traffic on the crossing streets all the time. Also buses travel from all directions at any signalized intersection, so which way do you give priority?

Priority signal only works along trunk roads where there are only a few bus routes and headway is less frequent, like every few minutes, not every few seconds as in HK..
But most cities establish a functional road hierarchy and give priority through the existing signals system...I accept that it would be tough to determine which road gets priority but it would not be impossible.
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This has been improving overtime. There are limitations on how much KMB can do on the crowded sidewalk along Nathan Road. It is not possible to put a booth to have all the information. The route information plates on the sign poles used to be only two sided, but they are now triangular or four sided which can have much more information these days..
Yes, it would be tough to find space for shelters/booths but I was thinking of something hanging off the buildings or off of the existing signs...which might be challenging tho.

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Yes, KMB has been testing the GPS tracking and "next bus" systems. I don't know what is the status now, but it was in real-life operation on Route 1A between Sau Mau Ping (Central) and Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry a few years back.
But the challenges we have been facing is satellite signal blockage due to enormous number of flyovers as well as skyscrapers on either side of the street. Technologies are capable to overcome the challenge, such as location tabulation using cell phone tower; but it also comes with a bigger price tag.

All these "next bus" timing count down is great if you know you are going to to wait for 20-30 minutes for the next bus to come. But for HK, since bus run typically on a 10-15 minute headways even during off-peak hours, it is unlikely any passenger will have to stand for over 15 minutes for the bus and which is acceptable.

I visited Vancouver last year where has such system for one of the main route. When I first stood at the bus stop, the sign said "Next Bus in 5 minutes." Five minutes later, the sign say ""Next Bus in 7 minutes." Another five minutes later, the sign still showed "Next Bus in 5 minutes." It's obvious this was because of congestion and I waited 25 minutes for the bus. It is meaningless if the sign keeps running the same message and can't give the correct information. Overtime, people won't rely the system anymore.
Vancouver would probably not be the best example ... and I am confident that HK would invest in design and maintenance (and hopefully, measures to increase the frequency and reliability of bus services).


Cheers, m
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 12:32 PM   #712
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I think the functional road hierarchy would not apply to Hong Kong well since the problem with congestion isn't so much with personal car use. People don't tend to drive to/from work or even to the grocery store. It's impossible to implement priority signals when the key vehicles using the main corridors are buses.
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 03:52 PM   #713
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJZG View Post

i thought hk already has 'next bus' signs over city...
i never imagined that in a city full of skyscrapers GPS would be jammed somehow by the buildings...
my city has started putting those signs on tram stops, it's still in a test phase and i find it pretty good solution... at least i know how much to wait...
but difference is that frequency of public transport in my town is like you said 10-15 minutes and in HK it is less than 5 minutes so 'next bus' sign isn't that much necessary...
Quote:
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I think the signals get interfered by the close arrangement of buildings. These signals have to go up to satellites, and don't use existing cell phone reception towers, so are more sensitive to the built-up environment.
Highrises have different effect on satellites. For example, one is direct blockage between the satellites in the space and devices on the ground. The other one is signal reflection off highrise messes up the signal orientation and travel time. GPS system requires four satellites to calculate the object's coordinate correctly, it is always hard to find them all inside an urban area.
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 04:46 PM   #714
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But most cities establish a functional road hierarchy and give priority through the existing signals system...I accept that it would be tough to determine which road gets priority but it would not be impossible.
It's the question with so many buses on the main road like Nathan Road, if buses always get the priority at a signalized intersection, the green light on the main road will never go away clogging up the side street with a constant red.

It works if the buses only arrive at the intersection once in a few minutes or even longer when it is absolutely clear the bus has the ultimate priority.
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Old October 25th, 2008, 08:39 PM   #715
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Old November 10th, 2008, 05:18 PM   #716
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By kuikakalok from a Hong Kong discussion forum :









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Old November 15th, 2008, 07:57 PM   #717
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Old November 16th, 2008, 06:03 PM   #718
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Low-emission zone plan closer as pilot study nears end
13 November 2008
South China Morning Post

A pilot study on low-emission zones where polluting franchised buses are banned will finish next year, acting Secretary for the Environment Kitty Poon Kit told legislators yesterday.

Replying to Democrats lawmaker Kam Nai-wai's queries on the scheme, Dr Poon said the government would wait until the study was completed to determine a timetable to implement it.

The pilot scheme will target buses first since they accounted for up to a third of traffic in busy areas such as Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and Central and their emissions were relatively high, according to Dr Poon.

"We have to look at a basket of factors including how it might impact on the traffic flow as well as roadside air quality."

Vehicle emission standards would also be studied, she said. All new vehicles must met Euro IV emission standards. Vehicles that do not meet the standard might be banned from the low-emission zones.

Dr Poon said there were similar schemes in London, Toyko, Shanghai and Berlin and they varied in terms of the implementation period, types of vehicles affected, and enforcement.

But the legislators were unconvinced and criticised the government for failing to seriously and urgently address air pollution.

Some said the government was delaying through lengthy study. Others were unhappy the government had refused to pursue a more direct solution like replacing older buses.

"The air pollution can't be more serious but the government always says it is studying it," Mr Kam said. "So why did the government not use the $3.2 billion diesel vehicle replacement grant to phase out dirty buses and set a deadline for such a switch? Otherwise, we won't solve the problems in 20 years," he added. He was referring to the one-off grant to encourage vehicle owners to replace their pre-Euro and Euro I diesel commercial vehicles.

Dr Poon said there were existing plans between the Transport Department and the bus companies to replace the older bus fleet.

She said replacing the fleet earlier might cost the bus companies more money. Whether public funds should be used and how, if at all, to restructure fares would also have to be considered.

According to Dr Poon, the bus companies were already deploying environmentally friendly buses in busy districts.

She said about 80 per cent of franchised buses in Causeway Bay and Admiralty were already Euro II models or higher.
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Old November 17th, 2008, 02:44 PM   #719
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NWSTBUS (Citybus+New World First Bus) Press Release:
NWFB & Cityflyer to Offer Free Internet Access on Wi-Fi Bus
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Old November 19th, 2008, 05:12 PM   #720
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