New World First Bus

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Nwfb logo.png
Nwfb euro 5.JPG
Parent Chow Tai Fook Enterprises
NWS Holdings
Founded 1 September 1998
Service area Hong Kong
Service type Bus services
Alliance Citybus
Routes 51
Depots 4
Fleet 704 (2012)
Daily ridership 489,000 (2012)
Website www.nwstbus.com.hk

New World First Bus Services Limited (NWFB) (Chinese: 新世界第一巴士服務有限公司) is the third largest bus operator in Hong Kong.

NWFB was established in 1998, taking over 88 China Motor Bus services on 1 September 1998 on Hong Kong Island. It is owned by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and NWS Holdings.

History[edit]

NWFB's officially last Dennis Condor non air-conditioned bus retired in August 2002
Neoplan Centroliner painted in the standard wavy livery
Refurbished Alexander R bodied Volvo Olympian in Causeway Bay in November 2005
Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Dart SLF in July 2005
Second-handed Alexander R bodied Volvo Olympian, one in CMB livery, other repainted in NWFB livery at Chai Wan in August 1999
Alexander Dennis Enviro500 MMC, introduced in 2013.

Establishment[edit]

Before NWFB commenced, franchised bus service in Hong Kong Island was provided by China Motor Bus (CMB) (franchisee since 1933) and Citybus (franchisee since 1991). In the early 1990s, the service levels of CMB were in decline. Therefore the Government of Hong Kong started to introduce new competitors by transferring the franchise of CMB routes to other companies.

As a result, Citybus became the 2nd franchisee of the bus service on Hong Kong Island. Over 40 routes were transferred between 1991 and 1995.[1]

In spite of the loss of many profitable routes, the service of China Motor Bus did not show any significant improvement. In February 1998, the government announced the franchise for all 140 routes operated by China Motor Bus would not be reviewed when it expired 31 August 1998. Eighty-eight of the routes were placed to open tender, 12 routes were transferred directly to Citybus, one cross-harbour route to Kowloon Motor Bus, and the remaining routes were cancelled.[2][3]

Six companies lodged bids:[4][5]

New World First Holdings was considered a dark horse as it was the only bidder with no local bus operation experience. However, New World First Holdings was awarded a five year franchise in March 1998 with commitments of new facilities, improved service standards and employment of CMB staff.[6][7]

Handover from China Motor Bus[edit]

During the handover in mid-1998, NWFB faced a lot of difficulties since China Motor Bus was reluctant to cooperate with New World First Bus. NWFB commenced operating at midnight on 1 September 1998 after a series of negotiations and with help from the government. The first official NWFB departure took place at 00:15 on route N8 with the first new bus in the fleet, no 1001. However NWFB had already started its operation of other non-overnight routes at midnight as CMB refused to operate after that time.

NWFB commenced operations with around 50 new buses and 710 former CMB buses, with the NWFB logo applied over the CMB logos and blue patches over the CMB corporate flag.[7]

Bus refurbishment[edit]

Having purchased large numbers of second-hand buses from China Motor Bus, New World First Bus started an extensive program to refurbish them. The floor, handrails, lighting system and seating layout were all upgraded. The seating arrangement of buses were slightly modified. A typical refurbished bus accommodated 10 fewer passengers than one before refurbishment.

Air pollution problems were also addressed in the refurbishment program. When the buses were first acquired, none of them had catalytic converters installed. Now, they have been installed, reducing emission of polluting exhaust gases and particulates by 50%.

Another initiative was to phase out non air-conditioned buses from its fleet. On 17 August 2002, NWFB's last non air-conditioned bus was withdrawn.

FirstGroup sale[edit]

In May 2000 FirstGroup sold its shares to joint venture partner New World Development giving it 100% ownership.[8]

Entering China's market[edit]

In January 2004 NWFB took a 51% shareholding in Kunming New World First Bus, a joint venture established with the Kunming government to operate services to Kunming in Yunnan on 39 routes with 700 buses.[8]

Cooperation with Citybus[edit]

In June 2003 fellow franchised bus operator Citybus was purchased by NWFB parent company NWS Holdings, bringing the bus services of Hong Kong Island once again under control of a single organisation.[8]

Before the acquisition, many of the two companies' competing routes overlap each other. In order to make better use of company resources, many routes were reshuffled. Redundant routes were cancelled, and Octopus card bus-bus interchange discounts were introduced between routes of both companies.

Bus fleet[edit]

As at 2012 the fleet consisted of 704 buses.[9]

Double-deck air-conditioned buses (Purchased new)[edit]

Single-deck air-conditioned Buses (Purchased new)[edit]

Double-deck air-conditioned buses (Second-hand)[edit]

Routes[edit]

When the government decided to terminate China Motor Bus' franchise, New World First Bus acquired 88 routes. Other routes were handed over to Citybus and Kowloon Motor Bus. New World First Bus now also operates bus routes in the New Kowloon Development Area and Tseung Kwan O. On the bus stop signs, different types of routes are distinguished by different colors. As at November 2013 NWFB operates 51 routes.[9]

Hong Kong Island routes[edit]

Route numbering pattern[edit]

The numbering of bus routes follow a logical pattern.

  • Triple digit routes beginning with 5 used to be fully air-conditioned routes, but now have no significant meaning as they are also paired with 0xx series while in Hong Kong.
  • Triple digit routes beginning with 7 are Island Eastern Corridor Express routes.

Cross Harbour Tunnel routes[edit]

New World First Bus stop in Sunshine City Plaza, Ma On Shan, it is served by the exclusive NWFB Eastern Harbour Tunnel route 682

Numbering system[edit]

All Cross Harbour Tunnel Routes have 3 digit numbers.

  • Route numbers beginning with 1 go through the Cross Harbour Tunnel.
  • Routes beginning with 3 are morning peak hour express routes.
  • Routes beginning with 6 travel through the Eastern Harbour Tunnel.
  • Routes beginning with 8 are shuttle buses that travel from the Shatin Racecourse.
  • Routes beginning with 9 travel through the Western Harbour Tunnel.

Kowloon & New Territories routes[edit]

Route numbering pattern[edit]

The same colour codes as those on Hong Kong Island apply for NWFB's Kowloon and New Territories Network. To distinguish NWFB routes from Kowloon Motor Bus routes, each route's number has 3 digits and all begin with 7.

Fare scheme[edit]

All passengers on New World First Bus are required to pay the exact fare upon getting on the bus. The bus fare can be paid by cash or by Octopus card. Children and Senior Citizens (people aged 65 or older) pay a Concessionary Fare, which is half of the full fare.

Sectional fare[edit]

Sectional fares apply to some of the longer routes. If a passenger gets on the bus after a specified stop that situates further away from the start of the route, he/she may pay less. Furthermore, passengers of routes 14, 15 and N8P may also pay less if they do not wish to travel the entire length of the route.

The rebate can be accessed by Octopus Card or cash.

To enjoy the rebate using an Octopus Card, the passenger has to place his Octopus Card on the reader twice in the entire journey, once when he/she boards and once when he alights. The rebate will then be added to the stored value of his Octopus Card. For instance, if a passenger takes route 15 from the Peak, and alights at Wan Chai Gap, he/she will only pay $6.80 rather than the full fare of $9.20 when he/she uses his Octopus Card.

Apart from that, the passenger can place the sectional fare into the farebox. However, this is permitted at the discretion of the driver.

Bus-bus Interchange Scheme[edit]

After Citybus was purchased by NWFB's parent company NWS Holdings in June 2003, the Bus-bus Interchange Scheme was introduced to encourage passengers to change buses. Not only does this allow the passenger to save money, it also allows redundant routes to be cancelled.

The scheme is only available to users of Octopus Cards. When a commuter pays with an Octopus Card, the record of the bus route will be stored in the card. Then, as he boards any bus route supported by the scheme to continue his journey, a discounted fare will be deducted from his Octopus card, rather than the full fare.

For example, if a passenger boards route 23, and changes to route 23A in the Admiralty Gardens, he will not be charged any fare when he boards the 23A, as long as both journeys were paid for by Octopus Cards.

Same Day Return[edit]

In early 2005, Citybus and New World First Bus jointly introduced Same Day Return Fares. The fare is available for their solely operated Cross Harbour routes with bus fares exceeding $15 and for NWFB's Kowloon and New Territories network.

In mid-2006, the Same Day Return Fare was extended to all Cross Harbour routes with fares over $10, regardless of the operator. Routes with fares between $10 and $14.90 enjoy a 10% discount on the return trip, while routes exceeding $15 enjoy a 20% discount on the return trip.

As long as the passenger uses the same Octopus Card on both of his journeys, the discounted fare will be automatically deducted from his octopus card in the second journey.

For example, the single journey fare for route 682 is $18.20, hence the passenger will be charged only $16.40 on his second journey if he uses an Octopus Card.

Value Pack[edit]

To encourage people to go sightseeing on NWFB buses, a Value Pack has been set up for the following 3 sets of routes:

From Central/North Point to Stanley:

  • 63, 65, 66

From Stanley to Sai Wan Ho:

  • 14

From Sai Wan Ho to Central:

  • 2X, 720, 720A, 720P

The passenger is encouraged to travel around Hong Kong Island either in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction starting at Central or North Point, stopping at Stanley on the way. As long as he uses an Octopus Card and takes the bus in the correct sequence of routes, he will receive a $1 interchange discount on the 2nd and 3rd rides.

Bus amenities & services[edit]

Interior of a NWFB Dennis Trident 3 fitted out to FirstGroup specifications

Onboard television[edit]

In most buses, there are television screens installed on both the lower and upper saloon, known as FirsTVsion. They provide various entertainment programs, programs of Radio Television Hong Kong, as well as some advertisements. The television on NWFB was once operated by Star East subsidiary M-Channel, and later it turned to be operated by NWFB's sister company and named the TV FirstTVision. In 2005, RoadShow acquired FirstTVision and started to broadcast their own programs on NWFB.

Next stop indication & sight explanations[edit]

On routes like 15, a public address system has been installed on the bus, which tells the passengers where the next stop is. When the bus passes through certain sightseeing points, the PA system will also give a brief introduction of the sights. (e.g. Causeway Bay) Also, all Rickshaw Sightseeing Buses (VA51-VA55) are fitted with PA systems.

Rickshaw Sightseeing Bus[edit]

In October 2009 NWFB commenced operating through its Rickshaw Sightseeing Bus subsidiary.

Depots[edit]

  • New World First Bus Heng Fa Chuen Depot (Chai Wan) 2002 - Shueng On Street and Sheung Mau Street (multi-storey bus depot)
  • Wong Chuk Hang Depot - ex-CMB depot at Ocean Park Road (open air bus depot)
  • Siu Ho Wan Depot and Shing Tai Depot 1999

Rival transit operators[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ History Citybus
  2. ^ Daily Information Bulletin Hong Kong Government Information Services 17 February 1998
  3. ^ Panel on Transport (Minutes) Provisional Legislative Council 21 February 1998
  4. ^ CKI Forms Consortium To Bid for Bus Tender Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings 13 March 1998
  5. ^ Bus groups battle for Hong Kong tender Herald Scotland 14 March 1998
  6. ^ UK bus operator wins £55m franchise The Independent 1 April 1998
  7. ^ a b Panel on Transport (Papers) Legislative Council Panel on Transport 31 July 1998
  8. ^ a b c Milestones 2000 NWS Holdings Limited
  9. ^ a b New World First Bus Hong Kong Transport Department

External links[edit]