LCQ21: Impacts of MTR service expansion on public transport services
It has been reported that upon the commissioning of the MTR East Rail Line (ERL) cross-harbour extension, the patronage of the trains running on ERL during the morning peak hours has surged 27 per cent when compared with the pre-commissioning figure, while the patronage of other public transport services has plummeted, necessitating the rationalisation, frequency reduction or cancellation of some scheduled public transport services. Some operators of public transport services (other than that of railway) have relayed that their operation has become increasingly difficult. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows, in respect of the following public transport services, how their patronages two weeks before the commissioning of the ERL cross-harbour extension compare with those two weeks after: MTR train services, feeder bus services operated by the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL), and those public transport services eligible for the interchange concessions;
(2) whether, in respect of the following public transport modes (except for the public transport services eligible for the interchange concessions mentioned in (1)), it has compiled statistics on how their patronages and business situations two weeks before the commissioning of the ERL cross-harbour extension compare with those two weeks after: taxis, green minibuses, red minibuses, franchised buses, non-franchised buses, and ferries;
(3) whether it will encourage the MTRCL to include into its interchange concession scheme more public transport routes; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(4) of the measures in place to further alleviate the impacts brought about by the commissioning of the ERL cross-harbour extension on various public transport services?
In consultation with the Transport Department (TD), our reply to various parts of the Hon Frankie Yick's question is as follows:
(1) and (2) The East Rail Line (EAL) cross-harbour extension was commissioned on May 15 this year, providing a new commuting option for the public. The train frequency of the EAL during the morning peak has increased from about 3 minutes before the commissioning of the cross-harbour extension to about 2.7 minutes now. According to observations by the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) in the first two weeks of the commissioning of the cross-harbour extension, the critical link of the EAL during the busiest one hour in the morning peak is the Tai Wai to Kowloon Tong section, with a loading of about 73 per cent (based on four standing persons per square metre). At the same time, the commissioning of the EAL cross-harbour extension has brought diversion effect on other railway lines. According to preliminary observations, there has been a drop in patronage of the critical link in the morning peak of the Tsuen Wan Line by more than 20 per cent, and a drop of around 10 per cent for that of the Kwun Tong Line. The patronage of the MTR feeder buses and green minibuses (GMBs) with interchange concessions was more or less the same.
According to the data provided by the bus companies, the overall daily patronage of cross-harbour bus routes operating via the Cross-Harbour Tunnel has dropped by about 10 per cent (about 20 000 passenger trips). As for other supplementary public transport modes, including taxis, minibuses, ferries and non-franchised buses, given that their roles and positioning are different from those of railway services, these modes (except for individual cross-harbour routes) are not significantly affected by the commissioning of the EAL cross-harbour extension. As the EAL cross-harbour extension is still in its early stages of operation and it takes time for passengers to try out and get used to the new travel patterns, it will probably be a while before the patronage of various transport modes stablises.
(3) The Government has always encouraged the MTRCL to offer more interchange concessions for passengers. Currently, the MTRCL offers interchange discount for GMB routes, such that passengers of over 500 specified GMB routes can enjoy an interchange discount of $0.3 for interchanging between GMB and MTR. As mentioned above, GMB patronage has not been significantly affected by the commissioning of the cross-harbour extension of the EAL. Separately, to tie in with the opening of the Exhibition Centre Station, the MTRCL and the franchised bus operator have launched an interchange discount, whereby passengers using adult Octopus cards may enjoy a discount of $2 per trip for interchanging with five franchised bus routes (including routes no. 1M, 25A, 722, 780 and 788) and MTR at the Exhibition Centre Station during the first six months after the opening of the station. The Government will continue to encourage the MTRCL to collaborate with more public transport operators to offer interchange concessions to further benefit passengers while promoting the complementarity amongst different public transport modes.
(4) Prior to the commissioning of the EAL cross-harbour extension, the TD engaged a consultant to assess the impact on other road-based public transport services upon its commissioning and formulated various service adjustment proposals of franchised buses, including introducing route no. 1M (Exhibition Centre Station Public Transport Interchange - Wong Nai Chung Gap (Circular Route)) to enhance feeder services between the new railway station and the adjacent areas, as well as adjusting bus routes overlapping with the new railway service and leading to drop in passenger demand, including the cancellation of route no. 301 (Cross-Harbour Tunnel Toll Plaza to Sheung Wan) which only serves the morning peak hours and the phased cancellation of special departures from Cross-Harbour Tunnel Toll Plaza to Hong Kong Island.
The TD will closely monitor changes in the passenger demand for various modes of public transport, maintain communication with the relevant operators, and make timely service adjustments to better meet passenger needs and ensure the effective operation of the overall public transport system, while at the same time maintain a delicate balance amongst the operations of various public transport services.
Ends/Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:00
Issued at HKT 12:00