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New franchises granted to two bus companies

     The Chief Executive in Council (CE in Council) today (September 22) decided to grant new 10-year franchises to Citybus Limited (Franchise for Hong Kong Island and cross-harbour bus network) (Citybus (Franchise 1)) and New Lantao Bus Company (1973) Limited (NLB). The new franchises will commence upon expiry of their respective current franchises.

     The new franchise for Citybus (Franchise 1) will run from June 1, 2016, to June 1, 2026, and that for NLB from March 1, 2017, to March 1, 2027. Citybus (Franchise 1) mainly operates Hong Kong Island and cross-harbour routes, whereas NLB primarily serves Lantau and the Shenzhen Bay Port.

     A government spokesman said that in accordance with the Public Bus Services Ordinance (Chapter 230, Laws of Hong Kong) and established practice, a grantee who has proven to be capable of providing a proper and efficient public bus service and is willing to further invest in franchised bus operation will be granted a new franchise for a period of 10 years.

     The spokesman pointed out that the two grantees have been providing proper and efficient services to passengers since the commencement of their current franchises in 2006 and 2007 respectively. There has been no increase in their bus fares since 2008. Citybus (Franchise 1) and NLB are also committed to making capital investment towards replacing about 28 per cent and 71 per cent of buses in their respective fleets between 2015 and 2019.

     "The Government last granted bus franchises in 2012 to three other grantees (namely New World First Bus Services Limited, Long Win Bus Company Limited and Citybus Limited (Franchise for the Airport and North Lantau bus network)). The new franchises granted at that time have already incorporated new conditions and commitments in respect of enhancing service quality, providing information to passengers, improving the environment and strengthening government regulation. Citybus (Franchise 1) and NLB will take on board the same conditions and commitments in their new franchises. These conditions and commitments include adopting designs with barrier-free and friendly features for the elderly and people with disabilities in newly purchased buses, acquiring the most environmentally friendly buses in terms of exhaust emissions as far as practicable, and strengthening regulation over financial and accounting arrangements. Further, the two grantees, having regard to views expressed by the public during the public engagement process, will provide real-time bus arrival information, introduce additional fare concessions, and accept new conditions for enhancing regulation of bus services under the new franchises," the spokesman said.

    "Upon commencement of the new franchises, the two grantees will roll out real-time bus arrival information systems so that passengers can through mobile platforms (including smartphone apps) access the departure time at bus termini and the estimated arrival time at bus stops. The two grantees will also install in phases a total of around 100 display panels that show arrival information at major bus stops."

     Regarding fare concessions, Citybus (Franchise 1) and NLB are currently offering 186 fare concession schemes altogether. Under the new franchise, Citybus (Franchise 1) will offer 31 additional fare concession schemes involving 59 bus routes. Passengers may enjoy fare concessions ranging from $1.20 to $8.80 per trip. Meanwhile, NLB will roll out a new concession under which free tickets will be offered to frequent passengers of 10 major bus routes serving South Lantau. For example, a passenger will receive one free ticket per 30 rides on the same route in a calendar month.

     The spokesman added that the new franchises will also further enhance the regulation of bus services. The two grantees will be required to procure material contracts through open tendering with a view to enhancing transparency. The two grantees must also formulate service pledges on providing responses to customers' complaints and comments, and publish their performance against their pledges from time to time.

     The CE in Council has taken into account the advice of the Transport Advisory Committee (see Annex) when considering the proposed granting of new franchises to the two bus companies. The relevant Legislative Council Brief has also been uploaded to the website of the Transport and Housing Bureau (

Ends/Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Issued at HKT 18:33


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