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Grant of new franchises to three bus companies

     The Chief Executive in Council (CE-in-Council) today (April 24) approved the granting of new ten-year franchises to New World First Bus Services Limited (NWFB), Long Win Bus Company Limited (LW) and Citybus Limited (Citybus) in respect of its franchise for the Airport and North Lantau bus network (Franchise 2).

     The new franchise for NWFB will run from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2023, and that for LW and Citybus (Franchise 2) from May 1, 2013 to May 1, 2023. The main operating area for NWFB is Hong Kong Island. LW's bus routes ply between the New Territories (except Tseung Kwan O) and North Lantau (including the Airport) while those for Citybus (Franchise 2) ply between urban areas/Tseung Kwan O and North Lantau (including the Airport).

     A government spokesman said that according to the established practice and in keeping with the relevant provisions of the Public Bus Services Ordinance (Cap 230), incumbent operators who have proven themselves to be capable of providing proper and efficient public bus services, and are willing to further invest in their franchised bus operations, would generally be granted new franchises for a period of ten years.  

     He said that since the commencement of their current franchises in 2003, the three bus companies have provided satisfactory services to passengers in terms of safety, reliability and standard of service, and environmental protection. They have also demonstrated a commitment to making considerable capital investment towards replacing about 70 per cent of their existing fleet with new buses from 2012 to 2016.

     "In negotiating for the new franchises, the three bus companies, having taken into account the views expressed by members of the public in the public engagement process, have committed to provide more fare concessions, to enhance safety and service standards, implement environmental improvement measures, and accept new terms in respect of enhancement of regulation of their operations.

     "They were therefore each granted a new franchise of ten years, commencing immediately upon the expiry of their current ones for a smooth continuation of services," the spokesman said.

     On fare concessions, NWFB, LW and Citybus (Franchise 2) are currently providing 116 bus-bus interchange (BBI) concession schemes, as well as section fares for 112 (or 88 per cent) of their 128 routes. When the new franchises commence, a total of 60 new fare concession schemes will be offered. They include 27 new BBIs (comprising 11 inter-company ones) and new section fares for 27 routes. The new schemes will bring more convenience and fare savings for local passengers in the major service areas of the three bus companies, namely airport workers, residents of Tung Chung, Hong Kong Island and Tseung Kwan O.

     The spokesman added that a new franchise clause was introduced which will empower the Commissioner for Transport to require the bus companies to provide facilities or designs for the enhancement of the general service and safety standard of buses. These include adopting barrier-free and elderly-friendly features on new buses.  In addition, the bus companies have committed to allowing passengers to bring foldable bicycles on board buses, providing facilities to reduce potential fire hazards and to enhance passenger safety, as well as other positive measures.

     On environmental protection, the bus companies will be required to buy the most environmentally friendly and technologically proven buses commercially available when acquiring new vehicles (with the ultimate objective of using zero emission buses). They will also be required to adopt commercially available technologies and products on their buses to reduce exhaust and noise emissions as far as practicable.

     As for the provision of bus service information for passengers, the bus companies will be required to disseminate more service-related information to the travelling public on board buses as well as through the Internet and smart phone applications.  The bus companies have also committed to install more Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panels at major bus termini for the display of route information and bus departure times, as well as LCD panels or other devices inside the bus compartments to provide more detailed route information.

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

Ends/Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:29


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