Category: transport

MTR Kwun Tong Line was extended with two new stations added this month, called “Ho Man Tin” and “Whampoa”. However, “Ho Man Tin” station is a complete misnomer: it is not located in Ho Man Tin at all, similar to “Lai Chi Kok” station which is located in Cheung Sha Wan.

Ho Man Tin Station is located at former Valley Road Estate, as the name suggests, near Valley Road. That particular place has its own name: Lo Lung Hang (老龍坑), which can be found in old maps. In contrast, Ho Man Tin is actually on the other side of the hill (Quarry Hill where Ho Man Tin Estate is located on, and No. 12 Hill where Oi Man Estate is located on), about 2 km away from the station. As the station is far from Ho Man Tin proper, it mainly serves the neighbourhood of Hung Hom, rather than Ho Man Tin. If you want to go to, for example, Kowloon Central Library or Pui Ching Middle School, which are located in Ho Man Tin, the best metro station is Mong Kok East Station, rather than “Ho Man Tin” Station.

Ho Man Tin Station is not in Ho Man Tin. There is still no metro station in Ho Man Tin, the nearest one is Mong Kok East Station, located not very far away from Ho Man Tin.


I have records of some journeys made by public transport for my analysis. The model I use is the generalised cost of the journey taken in isolation. In the value of time conversion, I currently use HKD 12.0 per hour as a passenger and HKD 18.0 per hour for walking, waiting or driving, using the price index of January 2015. These figures may be adjusted if I find them contrary to my personal preferences.

I consider, if the generalised cost is below 10, the journey is “cheap” that I am willing to travel on a frequent basis; if it is about 15, I am still willing to travel occasionally; however, if it is above 20, the journey is “expensive” and I tend to make arrangements to minimise the cost; if it is above 30, I start taking transport into consideration to decide if I am willing to go to that place to join the activity.

From my home in Mong Kok, a generalised cost of 10 can bring me to areas like Tsim Sha Tsui, Admiralty, Wong Tai Sin, while 15 can bring me to places like Kwun Tong, Causeway Bay, Lung Fu Shan (HKU). Travelling to suburbs like Tseung Kwan O, Fung Shue Wo, Fu Shin and Chai Wan Kok costs me about 15 to 20, while travelling to rural areas in Hong Kong SAR like Sai Kung, Sheung Shui, Stanley, Tin Shui Wai, Yuen Long, Clear Water Bay, etc., normally costs me 20 to 30, in some extreme cases, the cost may even reach 40 like going to Wong Shek Pier.

There were a few recorded journeys where the cost is more than 40, these were normally long journeys involving rural areas and/or crossing the border. In particular, the journeys between Tai Hing and Tangjiawan, which are about 41 km apart, were the most expensive, costing between 190 and 200, mainly because they involved super expensive coach / ferry, long time in taking the coach and long time in multiple transfers to / from the ferry. (In my experience, the costs tend to be much higher if the points of the journey is separated by the sea. In these cases, Tai Hing and Tangjiawan are separated by “the great sea” (大海), because in Hong Kong everyday usage, “across the great sea” (過大海) means travelling to Macau, therefore, “the great sea” refers to Pearl River Estuary.)

Although the generalised cost is a good indicator of my willingness to take the journey, the longer the distance, normally the higher the cost. My analysis on the data has shown me that, by dividing the generalised cost by the square root of the distance, the resulting figure is statically irrelevant to the distance, and can be used as an efficiency index from travelling from a place to another. This number currently ranges from 2.79 (the most efficient) to 31.18 (the most inefficient), where the inter-quartile range is 5.18 to 7.83. The small inter-quartile range means that in most cases the generalised cost of the journey can be predicted from its distance. For example, taking the MTR East Rail Line from Mong Kok to Wan Tau Tong is very efficient (using very low cost to travel a long distance), where the index is about 3.82, while taking bus no. 1 from Kowloon Tsai to Mong Kok is very inefficient, where the index is about 10.73. A journey of about the normal efficiency is taking the Tsuen Wan Line and Island Line from Mong Kok to HKU, where the index is about 6.20.

The notion of transport convenience can be derived from the above index. If the index is high (inefficient), there is the possibility of using an inferior method (for example, from Kowloon Tsai to Mong Kok, a much better option is taking the MTR from Lok Fu to Mong Kok). However, if there is no method where the index is low, I can say that the transport there is inconvenient (hard to get there efficiently), especially if there is no efficient method from a place to multiple places. For example, Sandy Bay is a place where the transport is inconvenient. In contrast, the transport is convenient (easy to get there efficiently) if there exists a method, or even multiple methods, where the index is low. For example, the transport to Tsim Sha Tsui is convenient because I can easily get there efficiently from multiple places.

Typhoon and the MTR

Last week, typhoon Vicente blew Hong Kong down. It caused the first signal No. 10 in the millennium.

When the signal No. 8 is in effect, most bus routes stop operation while the MTR still gives limited service after the peak period. However, when the signal is raised to No. 9, for safety reasons, the above-the-ground lines have to stop service.

In the night between 23 and 24 July, when the signal No. 9 came to effect, MTR announced that all the above-the-ground lines would stop operation soon, except the Airport Express Line. However, a tree fell down on the East Rail Line, causing power outage before all passenger having been cleared, and passenger trains stuck on the line.

I am not going to comment on the passengers but I have to state that everyone has to stay in a safe place once the No. 9 signal is in effect. For MTR passengers, that place is probably the nearest station.

The fact that a power outage had occurred before the end of service was an accident. Normally, the passengers should be evacuated from the train and sent to emergency buses. However, in adverse weather, running emergency buses was not an option, and under near-hurricane wind, the train was probably the safest place for passengers to stay.

Actually, when the No. 8 signal comes in force, everyone should go home immediately. If the nature of the work makes this impossible, the workers should stay in the workplace until the typhoon is over. Actually, in the past, the KCR actually stopped service after a few hours when the No. 8 signal was hoisted. The current MTR practice is to continue limited service under No. 8 signal and stop above-the-ground service once the No. 9 signal comes to effect, but continue underground service as long as possible. However, East Rail Line (formerly KCR East Rail) is a suburban railway which is built along the hills, which makes it vulnerable to this kind of accidents, unlike newer lines like the Airport Railway. It makes sense to stop the above-the-ground operation a few hours after the No. 8 signal comes to effect, just as in the past. The longer the trains run under No. 8, the greater the risk is, and the greater the damage is if an accident occurred. In this power outage, I think that the MTR should even take a step further: wait until the No. 10 signal being cancelled before repairing the line to ensure safety, to give some colours to the passengers.

Typhoons stop societies. However, societies should be stopped in a sane state and resumed promptly when the typhoon is over.

The art of bus photography

There are many kinds of bus photos. One kind is just for pure record. For example, a single-decker bus running on KMB route 5C is rare enough for a photo. In this case, the quality is not important. You just have to be able to see the route plate and the bus.

Another kind is for art. This kind of photos is just like any other form of photography, which is an expression of art. There is no standard. The photo itself is just the result of the artist’s intent.

However, what annoys me is that occasionally someone posts a photo on a forum, and then the photo is questioned as “non-standard”. What does a “standard photo” mean? A standard photo is required to have the bus at exactly the centre of the photo, the ratio of the area of the front to the side is 1:2, and the bus is required to cover about 60% of the photo area. Moreover, there must not be any traffic signs, street lights, fences, other vehicles, etc. in the photo. A photo with even a pedestrian at the corner is rejected.

So, how are the standards set? I doubt the usefulness of them. I agree that a “standard photo” is very useful to describe a bus. For example, a photo used in an encyclopaedia article has to be certainly standard. But what other uses are them?

Moreover, I sometimes see some “bus scum” rushing across a road with heavy traffic, standing on the double white line separating traffic in opposite directions, using a DSLR to take “standard” photos of a new bus / a bus with a new full-body advertisement, “racing” for the first to post these photos on the web. They are not art! So what’s the use of them?

I still take bus photos occasionally, but I’m not interested in taking these “meaningless” “standard” photos. Whenever I see some strange things, I will take a photo. I will also go to some scenic spots, to take photos for art. I do not participate in such “races” for the first photo, but I will report where the new buses go.

What I really want to see more is “art”, not loads of photos that look the same.