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LCQ22: Age-friendly facilities of public transport modes
     Following is a question by the Hon Tony Tse and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Liu Chun-san, in the Legislative Council today (December 14):


     Regarding age-friendly facilities of public transport modes, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the details of the authorities' existing and future plans regarding age-friendly facilities of public transport modes;

(2) whether it knows the measures and equipment currently provided by the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) and franchised bus companies to facilitate travel by elderly passengers, as well as the relevant measures or equipment to be introduced in the coming five years; as it is learnt that some elderly people have difficulties in standing up from the seat, whether there are corresponding ancillary facilities at the waiting areas of MTR stations and franchised bus stops;

(3) whether it knows the criteria adopted by MTRCL and franchised bus companies for determining the number of priority seats, and whether such companies have plans to provide more priority seats according to the proportion and needs of elderly passengers during peak hours and non-peak hours; if so, of the current number of priority seats and the relevant proportion of elderly passengers; if not, the reasons for that, and whether they will consider conducting the relevant study; and

(4) whether the Government will consider formulating the criteria for the number or proportion of priority seats on different modes of public transport for the public transport operators concerned to draw reference from or follow; if so, of the specific plan; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Government has always encouraged public transport operators to provide caring facilities as far as practicable to cater for the needs of passengers (including the elderly), and to provide them with safe, comfortable, and convenient journeys, which is conducive to building a caring and inclusive community. My reply to the various parts of the question raised by the Hon Tony Tse is as follows:

(1) and (2) MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL)

     The MTRCL established an elderly-friendly focus group in 2014, through which the corporation meets with relevant non-profit-making organisations regularly to exchange views on station facilities and services, in order to suitably address the needs of elderly passengers. In recent years, the MTRCL has introduced many elderly-friendly facilities in MTR stations. For instance, giant signage is put up at exits, lifts and toilets; double handrails are installed at gentle slopes; seats with handrails are provided on platforms and in concourses; non-slippery design is adopted in toilets; and indication of the respective station names at customer service centres together with the provision of magnifiers and alphabet cards that help the elderly to identify the exit. In November this year, the MTRCL launched a mobile application, “MTR Care”, targeting the elderly and passengers with special needs. More functions will be launched in the second half of next year, including booking of portable ramps for mobility impaired passengers, providing real-time operation status of station lifts. The new functions will facilitate access to MTR services by wheelchair-bound elderly and their carers.

     Anticipating a significant increase in the percentage of elderly passengers within its customer demographics by 2023 and beyond, the MTRCL has identified ageing population as a major consideration for its future railway operations. In this regard, the MTRCL has set up a taskforce to study the elderly’s needs in depth and formulate more specific measures.

     Franchised Buses

     To enhance the travel experience of elderly passengers, franchised bus companies have endeavoured to improve the design and facilities of buses, including adopting designs with low floor, wide entrance, continuous handrail, which facilitate wheelchair access; equipping low-level handrails with easily-reached stop buttons, setting up bus stop announcement system with visual and/or audio display, paving the bus floor with non-slippery material, widening the gangway, using high contrast step-edge, installing closing-door buzzer and warning lamp at exits, as well as placing large font electronic destination and route number display panels on the front, side and rear of the bus. Individual bus company also provides on its mobile application the service of placing search notices to help identify and find missing elderlies.

     Moreover, the Government has earlier assisted, through subsidy schemes, franchised bus companies to install real-time arrival information display panels at around 1 300 suitable bus stops and seats at around 2 600 covered bus stops currently without seats. The work is expected to complete by mid-2023.

     The Transport Department (TD) will continue to work hand in hand with bus companies to implement the planned improvements and arrangements in an expeditious manner and introduce more new elderly-friendly bus design and features where appropriate, so as to provide elderly passengers with a more comfortable waiting and travelling environment.

     Public light buses (PLBs)

     To facilitate elderly passengers’ travel by PLBs, the minibus trade has used non-slippery flooring on minibuses. Newly registered PLBs are also required to be equipped with additional seat handles and call bells with indicator lights, etc. In addition, currently three green minibus (GMB) routes plying hospitals provide low-floor wheelchair-accessible PLB service. The TD has also required the GMB operators running new hospital routes to deploy low-floor wheelchair-accessible PLBs.

(3) and (4) Many public transport operators have designated priority seats where appropriate having regard to their operational situation. At present, the Government does not have plans to set a mandatory requirement on the number or proportion of priority seats inside each train car or bus compartment. The Government has been promoting the culture of passengers taking caring of and offering seats to the elderly and people in need, and calling on passengers to offer their seats, whether priority seats or not, to those in need.


     The MTRCL has been providing priority seats in train compartments of various railway lines progressively since 2009. At present, all train compartments (except for the First Class compartments of the East Rail Line trains, the Airport Express and the Disneyland Resort Line) are provided with priority seats, which account for about 10 per cent of the number of seats in each train car. The MTRCL has been organising publicity and educational campaigns from time to time to encourage passengers (including those on non-priority seats) to offer their seats to those in need, including the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, passengers travelling with infants and mobility impaired passengers. Apart from continuing its efforts in encouraging passengers, whether they are on priority seats or not, to offer their seats proactively to those in need, the MTRCL will keep in view the passenger structure and usage of priority seats, and make suitable adjustments having regard to the views of the community.

     Franchised buses

     Currently, all franchised buses have designated priority seats for the elderly and other people in need. Stickers are put up on the nearby windows, reminding passengers to offer seats to those in need. The bus companies will designate seats closest to the exit door as priority seats for easier alighting by the elderly and those in need. Generally, there are at least two designated priority seats in a single-deck bus and at least four at the lower deck of a double-deck bus.

     Other public transport operators

     Regarding other public transport operators, each tram has two designated priority seats for those in need, including the elderly. As for PLBs, although no standing passengers are allowed, the Government also encourages the trade to designate seats near the entrance/exit door as priority seats, so as to remind passengers to let those in need, including the elderly, use those seats for easier boarding and alighting.
Ends/Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:10
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