Hong Kong Bus Story exhibition opens at Museum of History (with photos)

     In most cities bus services are intricately related to everyday life and form an important part of people's collective memory - and Hong Kong is no exception. To mark the 80th anniversary of the establishment of Hong Kong's franchised bus services, the Hong Kong Museum of History has organised an exhibition titled "Journey with You: Hong Kong Bus Story", which will showcase the transformation of the city's public buses since their launch, and how their growth reflects changes in society and lifestyles as well as the city's urban development.

     Running from tomorrow (September 25) to November 11 in the museum lobby, the exhibition is jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Kowloon Motor Bus Co. (1933) Limited (KMB), and is organised by the Hong Kong Museum of History. Seventy-seven sets of valuable artefacts selected from the collections of the Hong Kong Museum of History, local bus companies and private collectors are featured in the exhibition, including two antique buses, old photos and panel text which tells the stories of bus services over the past 80 years, making it the most comprehensive exhibition on the history of bus services ever held in Hong Kong.

     The exhibition was officially opened today (September 24) at the Hong Kong Museum of History by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang; the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; the Chairman of the KMB, Dr Norman Leung; the Deputy Chairman of KMB, Dr John Chan; and the Chairman of the Panel on Transport of the Legislative Council, Mr Chan Kam-lam.

     Land transport in the early days of Hong Kong was mostly for government officials, the gentry and merchants, who travelled by mountain sedan chair, sedan chair, rickshaw and carriage. Motor vehicles were introduced to Hong Kong in the early 20th century and in 1909 a bus route connecting the Star Ferry Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui and Whampoa Dock in Hung Hom was launched, pioneering the growth of public bus services in town.

     With increasing demand for fixed-route transportation and larger passenger capacities, a number of bus services were launched in quick succession in Hong Kong at that time. However, the standard of bus services in the early 20th century was patchy and some companies even operated without a licence. This prompted the government to issue open franchise tenders for bus services in 1932, one on Hong Kong Island and one in Kowloon (including the New Territories), which allowed it to regulate bus services more effectively and also to improve road safety. Bus routes, schedules and fares were also subsequently gazetted.

     In 1933, the China Motor Bus Company (CMB) and Kowloon Motor Bus Company Limited (now Kowloon Motor Bus Co. (1933) Limited) became the first two companies to obtain the rights to operate franchised bus services in Hong Kong. In later years, the New Lantao Bus Co., (1973) Limited, Citybus Limited, Long Win Bus Company Limited and New World First Bus Services Limited were also granted franchises to operate bus services. The bus franchise granted to CMB was, however, terminated in 1998.

     Over the years, bus services have been continually upgraded while bus designs and equipment have been constantly improving. In the early years there were only single-decker buses and it was not until 1949 that double-decker buses were first seen on the streets. Air-conditioned buses were first introduced to Hong Kong in 1988 and Hong Kong's last batch of non air-conditioned buses is taken out of service in 2012. Since the implementation of one-person operation in the 1970s, bus designs and equipment have changed further. For instance, wheelchair ramps and super low-floor buses were introduced in the 1990s and in the new millennium bus companies have deployed buses equipped with Euro III, IV or V engines to reduce emissions and protect Hong Kong's environment.

     Rich in content, the exhibition includes some spectacular exhibits such as two antique buses, which are expected to be the stars of the show. These are the Daimler A, which features an exposed radiator and is part of the Hong Kong Museum of History's collection. The Daimler A is one of the first batch of double-decker buses introduced to Hong Kong in 1949. The height of these double-decker buses meant that roadside trees had to be trimmed and signs along the routes were raised to 4.8 metres. The other antique bus is the Albion Victor EVK55CL, preserved and owned by the KMB, which is one of the city's last non-air-conditioned single-decker buses. This class of double-decker buses mainly served rural areas in the New Territories, including some routes in remote locations with rugged terrain. These two antique buses will be shown at the lower piazza of the Hong Kong Museum of History from September 25 until October 14.

     Other exhibits on display include bus stop signs, bus driver and female bus conductor uniforms, bus tickets, tools used by bus conductors and model buses. In addition, historical images and audiovisual programmes are included to enrich the exhibition's content.

     The Hong Kong Museum of History is located at 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It is open from 10am to 6pm on weekdays, and from 10am to 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays). Admission to the "Journey with You: Hong Kong Bus Story" exhibition is free of charge.

     For more information about the museum, please visit the website at hk.history.museum. For enquiries, please call 2724 9042.

Ends/Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Issued at HKT 20:03