China Motor Bus
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|Industry||Public transport (formerly), Properties|
|Key people||Ngan Shing Kwan, Ngan Kit-ling Wong Yiu Nam|
|Products||Bus services (formerly), Real estate|
|Revenue||HKD 196,427,000 (2005)  |
|Website||CMB; formerly www.cmb.com.hk|
China Motor Bus Company Ltd. (Chinese: 中華汽車有限公司), often abbreviated as CMB, was the first motor bus company in Hong Kong, and was responsible for the introduction of double-decker buses to Hong Kong Island.
It is now mainly involved in property development after its franchise lapsed in 1998.
Ngan Shing-kwan together with Wong Yiu Nam started in business in 1924 to provide services on Kowloon Peninsula. Ngan and Wong began their transport career as rickshaw pullers on Nathan Road in the 1920s and established the company in 1933, when they received the exclusive bus franchise from the Government of Hong Kong to operate routes on Hong Kong Island.
After the Second World War, the network of CMB's routes expanded with exploding population on the island. New buses were purchased to increase ridership. Since mid-1970s, CMB buses were traditionally painted with a buff upper body and a blue lower body livery. CMB adopt the policy to improve its service during the 1970s, including introducing the first type of rear-engine bus (Daimler Fleetline) and reforming the route number system. In 1976 CMB has earned over $20 million HK dollars, the highest in the company history.
With the opening of the MTR Island Line in the 1985, and CMB's reputation of outdated ethos and poor services over the years, ridership on CMB declined. On 29/30 November 1989, CMB employees started a massive strike, after broken negotiations on their pensions funds. During the strike, all CMB services on the island were halted, to the extent that the government was forced to use police vehicles to facilitate commuting to and from the Southern District. After the incident, the relationship between CMB and the government worsened, leading to the government to adopt more directive policies in respect of CMB.
Meanwhile, competitors such as Citybus had successfully lured passengers from CMB's franchised routes to their own residential routes. The establishment of route 37R as a residential route by Citybus illustrates this fact. The service provided more comfortable seats, air-conditioned fleet, and a more direct route (via Aberdeen Tunnel) from Chi Fu Fa Yuen to Central. Citybus was able to compete against CMB by charging only the fare of non-air-conditioned, uncomfortable and indirect CMB counterparts like routes 40 and 37 (which took Pok Fu Lam Road instead). The residential route was later converted into a franchise route, 37M, that still continued to be operated by Citybus.
In 1993 and 1995, the government had 26 and 14 CMB routes respectively removed and put into public tender, with Citybus taking over those routes. Citybus expanded its market of Hong Kong Island from CMB during these years, especially in the commercial areas like Central, Wanchai and Causeway Bay. More CMB passengers in these areas turned to Citybus, and CMB had more and more routes without profits. CMB started to give up its remaining bus service business from the mid-1990s, and the company eventually lost its franchise in 1998, which was taken over by New World First Bus.
Since losing its franchise, its main business focus shifted to real estate, by developing former bus depot properties which it owned. Meanwhile, the company is operating a free shuttle bus service between Island Place (one of the CMB's real estate developments) near the North Point MTR station and North Point Government Offices. A Volvo B6LE, acquired from Citybus, along with eight Dennis Dart "Coach Express" are currently utilised for this service.
Besides the eight Dennis Dart Coach Express retained to operate the free shuttle service, most of the fleet was transferred to New World First Bus in 1998 after the end of CMB's franchise. Two Volvo Olympian air-conditioned buses were sold to Citybus at half price in 2002 (), and Citybus, in turn, gave up one of its single-deck buses (the Volvo B6LE now used in the shuttle) to CMB for free.
Historical fleet (post war):
- Bedford OB
- Ford "School Bus"
- Tilling-Stevens K5LA4/K5LA7
- Guy Arab IV - some were converted to service vehicles
- Guy Arab UF (those with the engine replaced were numbered 601-616)
- Dennis Loline (numbered LW1)
- Guy Arab V - some were converted to service vehicles/training buses
- Leyland Titan PD3 - second hand
- Leyland Atlantean PDR1 - second hand
- Daimler/Leyland Fleetline - some were second hand
- Ashok Leyland Titan
- MCW-Scania Metropolitan
- Volvo Ailsa B55
- MCW Metrobus (numbered MC1-12, MB1-40, ML1-84)
- Dennis Dominator (numbered DD1, SD1-6)
- Leyland Victory Mk2 (numbered LV1-167)
- Dennis Jubilant (numbered DS1-30)
- Leyland Olympian (numbered BR1-2, LA1-25, LM1-10)
- MCW Metrorider
- Dennis Condor (numbered DL1-48, DM1-28, DA1-92)
- Dennis Dart (numbered DC1-20, with Cummins 6BT engine, Allison AT545 gearbox)
- Volvo Olympian (numbered VA1-64)
- Chai Wan Depot - 391 Chai Wan Road/Sheung On Street (a 5-storey concrete parking facility, former head office of CMB and major depot since the 1990s)
- (Former) North Point Depot - site redeveloped by CMB as the residential complex Island Place (completed 1997)
- Kennedy Town Depot - a minor depot now used by NWFB
- Eli Lau and Vanessa Gould, He started pulling rickshaws, created a bus company and died frugal but rich, The Standard, 19 April 2001
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to China Motor Bus.|
- CMB official homepage on Internet Archive
- Non-franchise album of China Motor Bus (Chinese only)
- Timeline of China Motor Bus (Chinese only)
- CMB Fleet
- CMB Paperbus