Transport in Hong Kong

Transport in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a highly developed and sophisticated transportation network, encompassing both public and private transport. Over 90% of the daily journeys are on public transport, making it the highest in the world. [Lam, William H.K. [2003] (2003). Advanced Modeling for Transit Operations and Service Planning. Elsevier publishing. ISBN 0080442064]

Since 1997, an electronic money system, namely the Octopus card, has been introduced to provide a fast, efficient and convenient fares payment alternative to the traditional banknotes and coins. Available for purchase in every Mass Transit Railway stations, the Octopus card now is the payment method of choice for not only public transport (such as trains, buses, trams, ferries and minibuses) , but also widely used at parking meters, convenience stores, supermarkets, fast-food restaurants and some vending machines.

Automated pedestrian transport

Escalators and moving pavements

Hong Kong Island is dominated by steep, hilly terrain, which required the development of unusual methods of transport up and down the slopes. In Central and Western district, there is an extensive system of free escalators and moving pavements. The Mid-levels Escalator is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, operating downhill until 10 am for commuters going to work, and then operating uphill until midnight.

The Mid-levels Escalator consists of 20 escalators and 3 moving pavements. It is 800 metres long, and climbs 135 vertical metres. Total travel time is 20 minutes, but most people walk while the escalator moves to shorten the travel time. Due to its vertical climb, the same distance is equivalent to several miles of zigzagging roads if travelled by car. Daily traffic exceeds 35,000 people. It has been operating since 1993 and cost HK$ 240 million (USD $30 million) to build.

A second Mid-Levels escalator set is planned in Sai Ying Pun.

Rail transport

Hong Kong has an efficient train network. Public transport trains are operated by the MTR Corporation Limited (MTR). The MTR operates the metro network within inner urban Hong Kong, Kowloon Peninsula and northern part of Hong Kong Island with newly developed areas, Tsuen Wan, Tseung Kwan O, Tung Chung, Hong Kong Disneyland, the Hong Kong International Airport, the northeastern and northwestern parts of the New Territories. The Hong Kong Tramways operates a tram service exclusively on northern Hong Kong Island. The Peak Tram connects Central, Hong Kong's CBD, with the Victoria Peak.

Mass Transit Railway

There are altogether ten lines in the MTR system, with a total of 82 railway stations and 68 light rail stops. The ten lines are HK-MTR lines|East Rail, HK-MTR lines|Kwun Tong, HK-MTR lines|Tsuen Wan, HK-MTR lines|Island, HK-MTR lines|Tung Chung, HK-MTR lines|Tseung Kwan O, HK-MTR lines|West Rail, HK-MTR lines|Ma On Shan, the HK-MTR lines|Airport Express and the HK-MTR lines|Disneyland Resort. Eight of the lines provide ordinary metro services, whereas the Airport Express provides a direct link from the Hong Kong International Airport into the city centre, while the Disneyland Resort Line exclusively takes passengers to Hong Kong Disneyland.

The Light Rail possesses many characteristics of a tramway, including running on streets with other traffic (at grades) on some of its tracks and providing services for the public in New Territories West, including Tuen Mun and Yuen Long.

All trains and most MTR stations are air conditioned.


The Hong Kong Tramways is the tram (streetcar) system run exclusively with double deckers. The electric tram system was proposed in 1881; however nobody was willing to invest in a system at the time. In August 1901, the Second Tramway Bill was introduced and passed into law as the 1902 Tramway Ordinance. Hong Kong Tramway Electric Company Limited, a British company, was authorised to take the responsibilities in construction and daily operation. It was soon taken over by another company, Electric Tranction Company of Hong Kong Limited and then the name was changed to Hong Kong Tramways Company Limited in 1910.

The rail system is 13 kilometres (8 miles) long, with a total track length of 30 km (18.6 miles), and it runs together with other vehicles on the street. Its operation relies on the 550V direct current (d.c.) from the overhead cables, on 3'6" gauge (1067 mm) tracks. The trams provide service to only parts of Hong Kong Island: they run on a double track along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan, with a single clockwise-running track of about 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) around Happy Valley Racecourse.

Funicular railways

The Peak Tram is a funicular railway service which was inaugurated in 1888. It carries both tourists and residents to the upper levels of Hong Kong Island. It provides the most direct route to Victoria Peak and offers scenic views over Victoria Harbour and the skyscrapers of Hong Kong.

Road transport


Bus services have a long history in Hong Kong. In 2005, five companies operate franchised public bus services. There are also a variety of non-franchised public buses services, including feeder bus services to railway stations operated by the railway companies, and residents' services for residential estates (particularly those in the New Territories).

The five franchised bus companies are:
* Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited;
* Citybus Limited;
* Long Win Bus Company Limited;
* New World First Bus Services Limited; and
* New Lantao Bus Company (1973) Limited.

Founded in 1933, the Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited (KMB) is one of the largest privately-owned public bus operators in the world. KMB's fleet consist of about 4,300 buses on 420 routes and a staff of over 13,000. In 1979, Citybus began its operation in Hong Kong with one double-decker, providing shuttle service for the Hong Kong dockyard. It later expanded into operating a residential bus route between City One, Shatin and Kowloon Tong MTR station. New World First Bus Services Limited was established in 1998, taking over China Motor Bus's franchise to provide bus services on Hong Kong Island together with Citybus. NWFB's owner company later bought Citybus, but the two companies have basically been operating independently.

Public light buses

Public light buses (小巴) (widely referred to as minibuses, or sometimes "maxicabs", a "de facto" share taxi) run the length and breadth of Hong Kong, through areas which the standard bus lines can not or do not reach as frequently, quickly or directly. Minibuses carry a maximum of 16 passengers; no standees are allowed.

The Hong Kong Transport Department (HKTD) allows and licenses the operation of two types of public light buses - (1) green minibuses that have route numbers, stop at designated stops and whom have their fares, service and frequency regulated by the HKTD; and (2) red minibuses that may or may not have regular routes, may or may not be numbered, may or may not have fixed stops and whose fares and service levels are not regulated by HKTD. [ HKTD Public Light Bus Policy] . Accessed 11 December 2006]

Red minibuses do often provide more convenient supplementary transportation services for riders which aren't serviced by green minibuses or other public buses, and are thus quite popular to use. Where green minibus drivers are paid fixed wages to drive their routes, red minibus drivers often rely on their pick-up fares for a living and thus are often seen to be more aggressive drivers. The prevalence of aggressive driving has resulted in the HKTD making it mandatory for Hong Kong minibuses to be equipped with large read-out speedometers which allow passengers to track the speed at which minibus drivers operate. Currently, if minibuses exceed 80km/h, the speedometer will sound an audible warning signal (begin beeping) to the driver and passengers. If the minibus exceeds 100km/h, the beeping will turn into a sustained tone. However, it is almost without exception that this warning signal is ignored by both the driver and passengers. The HKTD has also regulated, after a series of minibus accidents, that all new minibuses brought into service after August 2005 have safety belts installed, and riders use these safety belts when riding in a minibus.


As of 2005, there were 18,138 taxis in Hong Kong, 15,250 of which were urban taxis, 2,838 New Territories taxis, and 50 Lantau taxis. Every day, they serve 1.1 million, 207,900, and 1,400 passengers respectively. Taxis carry an average of one million passengers each day, occupying about 12% of the daily patronage carried by all modes of public transport in Hong Kong.

Most of the taxis in Hong Kong run on LPG (liquified petroleum gas) for protection of the environment. In August 2000 a one-off cash grant was paid to taxi owners who replaced their diesel taxi with an LPG one. By the end of 2003, over 99.8% of the taxi fleet in Hong Kong ran on LPG. Since August 2001, all newly purchased taxis run on LPG.

Taxi fare is charged according to the taximeter; however, additional charges on the faretable may apply, such as road tolls and luggage fees. Red urban taxis are the most expensive, while blue Lantau taxis are the cheapest. The standard of service among different kinds of taxis is mostly the same. The reason for having three types of taxis is to ensure service availability in less populated regions, as running in the urban centre is considered to be more profitable.

Private cars

There are 517,000 cars licensed in Hong Kong, 64% of which are private cars. As of 2003 the US Department of State reports that there are 523,767 licensed vehicles in Hong Kong and about 1,911 kilometers of roads, or 274 vehicles per kilometer of road. In terms of private car ownership, the number of cars per capita is half that of Singapore and one-third that of Taiwan. Private cars are most popular in newly developed areas such as Lantau and areas near the boundary with mainland China, as there are fewer public transportation options, and more parking spaces compared to other areas of Hong Kong.

Most cars are right hand drive models, from Japanese or European manufacturers. Hong Kong does not allow left hand drive vehicles to be primarily registered in Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong registered vehicles may apply for secondary mainland Chinese registration plates, and these can be driven across the boundary to mainland China; likewise, left hand drive cars seen in Hong Kong are usually primarily registered in mainland China and carry supplementary Hong Kong registration plates.

Cars are subjected to a first-time registration tax, which varies from 35% to over 100%, based on the size and value of the car. The level of vehicle taxation was increased by a law passed on 2 June 1982 to discourage private car ownership, [ [ Legco doubts on car curbs] , South China Morning Post, 3 June 1982] and also as an incentive to buy smaller, more efficient cars, as these have less tax levied on them. First-time registration tax was doubled, annual licensing fees were increased by 300%, and $0.7 duty was imposed on each litre of on light oils. [Michael Chugani, [ Legco doubts on car curbs] , South China Morning Post, 20 May 1982]

In addition to the heavy traffic at times, parking may be problematic. Due to high urban density, there are not many filling stations; Petrol in Hong Kong averages around US$1.55 per litre, of which around half the cost is taxes. It was suggested in the news that that the government had deliberately impeded the use of new environmentally friendly diesel engines by allowing only light goods vehicles to be fuelled by diesel. While it cannot be determined why exactly the government does not allow private cars to be fuelled by diesel, it has been pointed out that the government does receive a tax that is 150% of the actual fuel cost. This is mostly to discourage car ownership for environmental reason. [Mottershead, Terri. [2004] (2004). Sustainable Development in Hong Kong. HK University. ISBN 9622094910]

There is a waiting list for local driving tests, while a full (private car) driver's license valid for 10 years costs around US$115. Residents of Hong Kong holding foreign licenses can get a Hong Kong drivers license if they present a valid license from a "recognised" country. Private car owners often provide taxi service for a nominal fee. The term white card describes these drivers.

Maritime transport


Internal routes

Most ferry services are provided by licensed ferry operators. As of September 2003, there were 27 regular licensed passenger ferry services operated by 11 licensees, serving outlying islands, new towns and inner-Victoria Harbour. Two of the routes operated by the Star Ferry are franchised. Additionally, 78 "kai-to" ferries are licensed to serve remote coastal settlements.

The following companies operate ferry services in Hong Kong:

Star Ferry:
* Central to Tsim Sha Tsui
* Wanchai to Tsim Sha Tsui
* Central to Hung Hom
* Wanchai to Hung Hom
* Harbour Tour (Circular between Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, Wan Chai, and Hung Hom)

New World First Ferry:
* Central to Cheung Chau, Mui Wo, and Peng Chau
* Tsim Sha Tsui, Mui Wo, Cheung Chau (Weekends Only)
* Peng Chau, Mui Wo, Chi Ma Wan, and Cheung Chau
* North Point to Hung Hom and Kowloon City
* Tuen Mun to Tung Chung

Hong Kong & Kowloon Ferry:
* Lamma Island to Central and Aberdeen

HKR International Limited:
* Discovery Bay Transportation Services - Discovery Bay to Central

Park Island Transport Company Ltd.:
* Ma Wan to Central
* Ma Wan to Tsuen Wan

Fortune Ferry (富裕小輪)
* North Point to Kwun Tong

Coral Sea Ferry (珊瑚海船務)
* Sai Wan Ho to Kwun Tong

External routes

Fastferry hydrofoil and catamaran service is available at all times of the week between Hong Kong and Macau.

TurboJet provides 24-hour services, connecting Central and Macau. Its highest frequency is 15 minutes. It also provides the following regular services:
* Hong Kong International Airport to Shenzhen Airport / Macau / Guangzhou (East River Guangzhou Ferry Terminal)
* Tsim Sha Tsui to Guangzhou
* Macau to Shenzhen Airport
* Tsim Sha Tsui to Macau

New World First Ferry (Macau) provides an 17-hour service daily between Tsim Sha Tsui and Macau, with the highest frequency of 30 minutes.

Chu Kong Passenger Transport (CKS) connects Hong Kong to cities in Guangdong province, including Zhuhai (Jiuzhou), Shenzhen (Shekou), Zhongshan, Lianhua Shan (Panyu), Jiangmen, Gongyi, Sanbu, Gaoming, Heshan, Humen, Nanhai, Shunde, Doumen.


Gondola lift

There are two gondola lift systems in Hong Kong:
* Ocean Park, Hong Kong Island - A 1.5 km in-park cable car system between Nam Long Shan Headland and Wong Chuk Hang, opened in 1977.
* Ngong Ping Cable Car on Lantau Island, a 5.7 km cableway between Tung Chung MTR station and Ngong Ping Terminal near Po Lin Monastery, opened on 18 September 2006.


Ports and harbours

The port of Hong Kong has always been a key factor in the development and prosperity of the special administrative region, which is strategically located on the Far East trade routes and is in the geographical centre of the fast-developing Asia-Pacific Basin. The sheltered harbour provides good access and a safe haven for vessels calling at the port from around the world. In terms of tonnage of shipping using its facilities, cargo handled and the number of passengers carried, Hong Kong is undoubtedly one of the major ports of the world.

The Victoria Harbour is one of the busiest ports in the world. An average of 220,000 ships visit the harbour each year, including both oceanliners and river vessels, for both goods and passengers. The container port in Hong Kong is one of the busiest in the world. The Kwai Chung Terminal operates 24 hours a day. Together with other facilities in Victoria Harbour, they handled more than TEU|20 million|first=yes in 2003. Some 400 container liners serve Hong Kong weekly, connecting to over 500 destinations around the world.


Hong Kong only has one active international airport. The famous former Hong Kong International Airport at Kai Tak was retired in favour of the recently constructed Hong Kong International Airport, also known as Chek Lap Kok International Airport. The airport now serves as a transport hub for East Asia, and as the hub for Cathay Pacific Airways, Dragonair, Hong Kong Express, Hong Kong Airlines (former CR Airways),Air Hong Kong, and Oasis Hong Kong. Ferry services link the airport with several piers in Pearl River Delta, where immigrations and customs are exempted.

The airport is the third busiest airport for passenger traffic in Asia, and the world's second busiest airport for cargo traffic in 2003. In terms of international traffic, the airport is the third busiest for passenger traffic and the busiest for cargo since its operation in 1998. It is popular with travellers — from 2001 to 2005 Hong Kong International Airport has been voted the world's best airport in an annual survey of several million passengers worldwide by Skytrax.

According to the Guinness World Records, the passenger terminal of the HKIA is the world's largest airport terminal building, with a covered area of 550,000 m² and recently increased to 570,000 m². The Airport Core Programme was the most expensive airport project in the world.

Shek Kong Airfield, located near Yuen Long, is a military airfield for the People's Liberation Army, which is of limited operating capabilities due to surrounding terrains. The only aircraft operating on the airfield are PLA's Z-9 helicopters, which is the license-built version of the Eurocopter Dauphin.


Hong Kong has three heliports. Shun Tak Heliport (ICAO: VHST) is located in the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal, by the Shun Tak Centre, in Sheung Wan, on Hong Kong Island. Another is located in Southwest Kowloon, near Kowloon station. The other is located inside Hong Kong International Airport.

Heli Express operates regular helicopter service between Macao Heliport (ICAO:VMMH) on the Macau Ferry Terminal in Macau and the Shun Tak Helipot. There are around 16 flights daily. Flights take approximately 20 minutes in the eight-seater aircraft.

There are also a number of helipads across the territory, including the roof of the Peninsula Hotel (which is the only rooftop helipad in the territory, excluding the rooftop heliport of Shun Tak Centre and those in hospitals) and Cheung Chau Island, between Tung Wan Beach and Kwun Yam Beach.


There are a total of 1,831 km of paved highways in Hong Kong. These roads are built to British standards with maximum of three lanes with hard shoulders.

There are 9 roads classified as highways in Hong Kong and re-numbered from 1 to 9 in 2004. Route 1 to 3 are in north-south direction and crossing three Cross-Harbour Tunnels while others are in east-west direction:

*Route 1:::Southern District <> Causeway Bay <> Tsim Sha Tsui <> Mong Kok <> Sha Tin
*Route 2:::Eastern District <> Kwun Tong <> Wong Tai Sin <> Sha Tin
*Route 3:::Central & Western District <> Tai Kok Tsui <> Sham Shui Po <> Kwai Tsing <> Tsuen Wan <> Yuen Long
*Route 4:::Eastern District <> Causeway Bay <> Wan Chai <> Central & Western District
*Route 5:::Kowloon City <> Wong Tai Sin <> Sham Shui Po <> Kwai Tsing <> Tsuen Wan
*Route 7:::Tseung Kwan O <> Kwun Tong <> Wong Tai Sin <> Sham Shui Po <> Kwai Tsing
*Route 8:::Sha Tin <> Kwai Tsing <> Lantau Island North <> Tung Chung <> Airport
*Route 9:::Circular Route linking the whole New Territories ( Sha Tin, Tai Po, Northern District, Yuen Long, Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan )

Route 6 (Hong Kong) is an unbuilt and proposed highway.

There are 120 CCTV cameras monitoring traffic on these highways and connecting roads which is available on demand (now TV) and on Transport Department's Website.

Bus lanes

There are approximately 22 km of bus priority lanes.

Bridges and tunnels

There are 15 vehicular tunnels (3 currently under construction) in Hong Kong. They include three cross-harbour tunnels and nine road tunnels.

The other road tunnels and bridges which are proposed or under construction are:

* Nam Wan Tunnel (under construction)
* Eagle's Nest Tunnel (under construction)
* Sha Tin Heights Tunnel (under construction)
* Stonecutters Bridge (under construction)
* Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (Proposed)

Ports of entry

This is a list of ports of entry (i.e. immigration control points) in Hong Kong.

*Airport and heliports
**Hong Kong International Airport
**Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal
**Vehicles and people
***Lok Ma Chau
***Man Kam To
***Sha Tau Kok
***Shenzhen Bay
***Lo Wu
***Lok Ma Chau Spur Line
**Hung Hom
**Macau Ferry Terminal
**China Ferry Terminal
**Ocean Terminal
**Tuen Mun Ferry Pier
**Western Immigration Anchorage
**Eastern Immigration Anchorage
** Tuen Mun Immigration Anchorage


ee also

* List of streets and roads in Hong Kong
* List of airports and heliports in Hong Kong
* List of buildings, sites and areas in Hong Kong
* Media of Hong Kong
* Victoria Harbour crossings
* Hong Kong Link
* Hong Kong car number plates

External links

* [ Wang L H, "In Search of a Sustainable Transport Development Strategy for Hong Kong"]
* [ Hong Kong Highways Department]
* [ Hong Kong Transport Department]
* [ Vehicular tunnels in Hong Kong]
* [ E & E Bus]
* [ Transport Statistics] - Census and Statistics Department

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